Supercommittee Prepares to Carve Deficit

Saturday, 03 Sep 2011 11:38 AM

By Gary Cohen

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The congressional panel charged with carving hundreds of millions of dollars from the nation's deficit gets down to business late next week on the same day President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on the economy, according to a report by The Hill.

The so-called congressional supercommitee has set next Thursday morning as its first session. The panel consists of 12 members of Congress, equally divided by political party and having an equal number of House and Senate members. The group has the task of finding 1.5 trillion dollars in deficut cuts by Thanksgiving Day.

President Obama is due to address that joint session of Congress Thursday at 7 p.m. EST. He had originally planned to make the speech Wednesday but that conflicted with a previously booked Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library.

After much discusson back and forth between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, the president made the change to Thursday at a time which would not conflict with the opening night of the National Football League's regular season which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. EST.

congress super committee deficitSenator Pat Murray, D-Wa., and Congressman Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex., said Friday the first session would feature opening statements by each member of the supercommittee and that the following week, the panel would hear testimony from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf.

The commitee was put together as part of a deficit reduction agreement worked out in August between the White House and Congress which saved the nation from defaulting on its debt. The political haggling which played out for days resulted in the U.S. triple-A rating being downgraded a notch by Standard & Poor's.

The panel hearings are open to the public. The recommendations reached by the panel are due to be voted on by each body of Congress by year's end.

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