For the still-divided super committee, three-and-a-half months of work have boiled down to three days: The panel likely needs to submit a package to Congress’ budget scorekeeper by Monday to hold its Wednesday final vote.
But at this rate, it’s unclear whether the bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers will have anything to vote on, especially something that could garner the seven votes necessary to send a package to the full Congress for approval.
With deadlines hanging like daggers, the group tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years did not appear to be any closer today to an agreement than it was when this critical week started. Democrats and Republicans met multiple times among themselves, but the full committee still has not met behind closed doors since Oct. 31. And the panel’s lawmakers, once tight-lipped and optimistic, are now as vocal as ever in lobbing insults at the other side.
Members said today they will continue to meet throughout the weekend, even as their colleagues go home for Thanksgiving, well aware that the Congressional Budget Office will need a product from them by Monday. But the commitment to meet likely will not be enough to bridge the serious policy gaps remaining between the two parties on taxes and entitlements. The balance of cuts to revenues to reform has doomed every negotiating group preceding the super committee, and it has created what could be an insurmountable block for the current panel, despite open support from Congressional leaders.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met Tuesday, and Reid especially has kicked up his involvement in the talks. But it’s unclear how involved the leaders are willing to get in the direct negotiations, and time is running out.
“Leadership is involved, definitely is involved,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said today. “Harry has met with John Boehner — that’s been reported. And he is really trying to reach out to him to spark closer cooperation. At this moment, I still think they’re struggling to find that. I hope I’m wrong.”
Meanwhile, the panel’s Democrats and Republicans stood by their most recent proposal today. Early last week, Republicans made a $1.2 trillion offer, including $250 billion in tax code reform, in exchange for a permanent extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, extended last winter by President Barack Obama.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.