Debt reduction plan falls short on votes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The majority of U.S. President Obama's fiscal commission approved a plan to rein in the federal deficit, but the panel failed to adopt it on a 11-7 vote Friday.

Despite a majority voting to support the plan, it came up three votes shy to bring it up for consideration in Congress, The Hill reported. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to bring the deficit recommendations up for a floor vote, provided it garnered support of 14 members.


The panel had been working since February on a road map that would slash nearly $4 trillion in deficit spending in the next nine years and reduce the federal debt to 40 percent of the gross domestic product by 2035.

Among the "yes" votes were the commission's co-chairmen, Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, chief of staff to former President Clinton. Before the vote, Bowles said the panel of congressional members, business and union leaders and administration officials made real progress by developing a proposal that received support from Democrats and Republicans.

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"A strong bipartisan coalition has already voted for this plan," Bowles said.


A group of 14 Senate Democrats issued a statement Friday, urging Obama and congressional party leaders to forge ahead with legislation to address the deficit despite the vote, The Hill said.

"Prompt action is needed to bring the country's deficit into balance and stabilize our debt over the long term," the group wrote. "Regardless of whether the commission's report receives the support of at least 14 of its 18 members, we urge legislative action to address these problems."

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Commission member Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who voted for the plan, said the document's failure to secure 14 votes "should not be an indication that there is not powerful support behind this plan."

He said 60 percent of panelists voted in favor and commission member Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who will chair the House Budget Committee, committed to use much of the plan in coming up with a budget resolution next year. Ryan, however, voted against the plan.

READ: The report in full (pdf)

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