This is an excerpt from Executive Insight Briefing, produced every Thursday by the National Journal’s Daily Briefings Team.
After the House voted, 382-38, last month in disapproval of a version of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) relented to heat from within his own party and scratched a committee vote on a similar proposal.
Conrad, not seeking reelection in November, had pushed for the budget to reach the floor, but has been waved off by, among others, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Democrats harbor political worries about supporting the plan, which hunts down fiscal cows sacred to both parties in slashing the deficit by roughly $5.4 trillion over 10 years.
Republicans, too, are wary of Bowles-Simpson, which emerged from a blue-ribbon panel on curtailing the federal debt and deficit woes that was commissioned by President Obama, before he himself walked away from its findings. Under Bowles-Simpson, government spending would level off at 21.9 percent of the economy by 2022, discretionary spending plunging from 8.4 percent this year to 4.8 percent by then.
Situations like these may feed the perception that Congress cannot get anything done in advance of the election. But defenders of Congress point to planned action next week on a cybersecurity and Export-Import Bank reauthorization legislation as evidence that there is, in fact, progress being made.