by Alex Sange, MPP
In just over a week – by November 23rd – the 12-member, bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (or “Supercommittee”) aims to vote on a proposal that will reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. However, we don’t seem much that closer than we were last week to having a Supercommittee deal, even in concept, much less a draft proposal ready to view. Like last week, Leadership in both chambers is involved in the Supercommittee negotiations and they continue to publicly state their desire to see the process succeed. Like last week, we have no concrete details about the policy proposals that might be included in a final Supercommittee proposal – assuming they can agree on one. Like last week, Supercommittee members continue to be divided on partisan lines about whether and to what extent revenues will help the committee reach their $1.2 trillion target.
However, in notable progress since this time last week we have now started to see leaked details of proposals float back and forth between Supercommittee members and a summary of last week’s Supercommittee Democrats’ proposal made it to the media. Because negotiations are still very fluid, we don’t yet have a firm understanding of what might or might not be included in a final deal. Whether revenues are a part of the deal, and how much, how much will come out of entitlement programs, and how much will come out of discretionary spending – all of these questions are still very much in flux. However, the fact that members are now trading offers does indicate that the Supercommittee is now dealing in substance and looking for a middle ground that members, and their caucuses, can accept. Whether the Supercommittee can dance toward a deal or it all falls apart at the 11th hour (or before) is anybody’s guess, but with just over a week left until the Supercommittee’s statutory deadline we’ll know for certain soon enough.
It is entirely possible that one week from now, we all may be leafing through the long-awaited Supercommittee proposal. But for the next few days, with only a brief window left to influence the process, we’ll continue to weigh in with Members of Congress about the importance of protecting the Health Centers program as we wait and watch for the deal (if there is a deal) to unfold.