'Super Committee' Still Hoping for Debt Deal

Sunday, 13 Nov 2011 02:30 PM

 

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The U.S. congressional "super committee" is at a difficult point in negotiations on a deficit-reduction deal, but lawmakers said Sunday they had not given up on reaching an agreement by this month's deadline.

The special congressional committee is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings over 10 years, but with a Nov. 23 deadline looming, Republicans and Democrats on the panel have not yet sealed a deal.

Republicans have been reluctant to allow tax increases, and Democrats do not want to agree to cuts in healthcare and retirement programs until tax increases are on the table.

House Republican Jeb Hensarling, committee co-chair, acknowledged on CNN's "State of the Union" program that tax increases would likely have to be part of any bipartisan deal.

"We believe that, frankly, increasing tax revenues could hurt the economy, but within the context of a bipartisan negotiation with Democrats, clearly they are a reality," Hensarling said.

House Democrat James Clyburn, a member of the committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that while he was "very hopeful" that a compromise could be reached by the deadline, "I am not as certain as I was 10 days ago."

 

'BUILD THE WILL'

Clyburn added: "I really believe that all of the ingredients for a good resolution are there. We just need to build the will."

Lawmakers said they had not given up on the prospect of reaching an agreement by the deadline.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride," Hensarling said. "We haven't given up hope, but if this was easy the president of the United States and the Speaker of the House would have gotten it done themselves."

A dispute over taxes had scuttled negotiations this summer between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on a broad deficit-reduction package.

The committee of six Democrats and six Republicans is struggling to meet the deadline that is less than two weeks away. Once a deal is reached, Congress will have until Dec. 23 to vote on the committee's recommendations.

If either deadline goes unmet, automatic spending cuts would be triggered on domestic and military programs, beginning in 2013, as part of a law enacted in August.

Obama spoke on Friday by telephone with the super committee co-chairs -- Democrat Senator Patty Murray and Hensarling -- to urge that the panel meet the deadline.

The White House has said that Obama would block any measures to water down the enforcement mechanism that would require the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years if the committee fails to reach a deal.

"The clock is running out, but it hasn't run out yet. We still have time, but we have no time to waste," Republican Senator Patrick Toomey, a member of the committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"It's at a difficult point. I think we've got a ways to go, but I hope we can close that gap very quickly," he said.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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