A self-appointed group of bipartisan senators are waiting in the wings to prevent a government shutdown next month just in case the official panel of House and Senate leaders fails to reach a budget compromise.
Moderate Sens. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, call their group of 16 members the "common sense caucus" and say that if leaders fail to reach an agreement by the Dec. 13 deadline, they will do the work for them.
"They’re making some headway. Not as much as I’d like to see," Manchin told Politico
"If they fall and get nothing and you come on the eve of a shutdown? You don’t want that to happen. We’re not going to let that happen," Manchin said.
If the appointed conference committee chaired by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington fails, the government would face another shutdown at the beginning of 2014.
A temporary shutdown in October led by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was a failed attempt to overturn the law that created Obamacare and lasted 16 days.
The self-appointed group of moderates has been quietly meeting since the shutdown to discuss lifting the debt ceiling, delay the new health care medical device tax, require strict income verification for subsidized healthcare, and shifting budget cuts.
However, Politico also reports that assistance from the caucus may not be needed, as Ryan's group is close to reaching a deal.
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