With Congress back in session this week after the August recess, the
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the bipartisan, bicameral
committee established by the Budget Control Act, held its first
formal, public meeting today. The primary objective of this first
meeting was to agree on the rules and procedures under which the
committee will operate going forward. Those having been established,
including a commitment to making all committee meetings public, the
committee can now begin its efforts to find the $1.5 trillion in savings that they have been tasked with identifying over the next decade.
Opening statements from committee members proved that the parties are
still far apart on revenue and entitlements, as Republicans opened by
calling for cuts to entitlement programs while Democrats again demanded
that revenue enhancements be included as part of any final deal.
Bridging those divides will not be easy in the next six weeks.
In the meantime, several House and Senate committees have been working
on deficit reduction proposals that they will submit to the joint
committee for consideration. House and Senate committees must submit
these proposals by mid-October. Joint committee members have until
November 23rd to reach reach an agreement and submit their
recommendations to Congress. Both chambers of Congress must pass those
recommendations within a month, otherwise a series of automatic spending
cuts totaling $1.2 trillion will go into effect in 2013.
The committee will meet again next Tuesday where they will hear
testimony from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf.