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News Congressman Shuler’s ‘Go big’ effort ignored by budget supercommittee

Pictured (L-R) are Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Senator and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), Congressman Shuler (D-NC), Congressman Kurt Schrader (behind Heath in the picture. D-OR), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO), Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT). Photo providedThe “Go Big” effort spearheaded by Congressman Heath Shuler and Republican Representative from Idaho, Mike Simpson, continued to gain momentum, evolving from a bipartisan effort to a bicameral effort with the support of nearly 150 members of Congress, before being ignored by their colleagues.

The bicameral group of lawmakers joined Wednesday in a press conference to urge the 12 member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s supercommittee to “go big” and strike a deal to reduce the nation’s debt by as much as $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

Although this bicameral effort represented the first time House and Senate Democrats and Republicans had come together on a large scale to announce their support for a comprehensive $4 trillion plan to reduce the deficit, members of the supercommittee appreciated the support of the colleagues, but did not take their advice.

The supercommittee co-chairs released a statement late Monday afternoon stating “after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

Legally, the 12-member committee had until midnight Wednesday to reach an agreement and formulate a plan, but any deal needed to be announced for legislative reasons by the end of Monday.

Failure by the bipartisan committee sets in motion an alternative timetable for $1.2 trillion in spending reductions to become effective in January 2013. Leaders in both political parties are unhappy with the nature of the fallback plan, which cuts evenly from domestic and defense programs. social security, medicaid, food stamps, veterans’ benefits and other politically sensitive programs.

In a last ditch effor to encourage the committee, House members released a bipartisan letter with 102 signatures calling on the Super Committee to “go big,” following a similar bipartisan Senate letter signed by 45 Senators.

Congressman Shuler was not optimistic that supercommittiee would adopt the suggested $4 trillion reduction. “I think that we will see a much smaller proposal, and when it comes time to vote on it, it is up to us to continue working toward the best solution,” said Shuler. “Regardless of what happens next week, we can not be satisfied with just a $1.2 trillion proposal, it won't get the job done.”

“By becoming a bicameral effort, I think it shows what a huge issue this is for Congress,” said Congressman Shuler. “To have members of Congress come together for the betterment of the American people speaks to what a big, big issue this is.”

North Carolina Senators, Kay R. Hagan and Richard Burr, both joined the coalition of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to further urge the members of the congressional supercommittee to seek the broadest and most balanced bipartisan agreement possible to address the nation’s deficits and debt.

According to Shuler, the “go big” initiative was crucial for American citizens and the corporation by the nation’s lawmakers speaks volumes to the intention of protecting the public. “The bicameral effort shows the supercommittiee that both Republican and Democrats in both the House and the Senate have their backs and support the attempt of going big and reaching a deal to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion,” said Shuler. “It also shows citizens throughout the United States and people all over the world that Congress is able to work together despite political affiliation, that we can come together for the American people. Lastly, it shows how timely this situation is and that time is definitely an issue here. Right now, nothing is more important than doing something substantial to reduce the deficit.”

Congressman Shuler had been working with the supercommittiee to further show his support and extend his encouragement that the group would be able to develop a plan before the November 23 deadline. According to Shuler, the original bipartisan “go big” letter and the bicameral press conference supporting the initiative has been well received by the committee and members of the group have commended Shuler on his leadership and diligence to fight for the American people.

The Deficit Reduction Committtee was established in August after Congress developed procedures to increase the federal debt ceiling. The “supercommittee,” which is comprised of 12 members of Congress, six from the House of Representatives and six from the Senate, with each delegation evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, was charged with identifying ways of reducing federal deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Both houses of Congress are scheduled to vote on the recommendations by Dec. 23. If legislation to save at least $1.2 trillion is not enacted by January 2013, the President is directed to make up the difference by imposing cuts in the majority of military and civilian programs.

“I understand the immense pressure being placed on the members of the supercommittee,” Senator Hagan said. “They need to know that a plan that makes the tough choices for our long term fiscal stability has the strong support it deserves on Capitol Hill and throughout the country. Another $1.2 trillion in savings is simply not enough to get us on a sustainable path. We need a responsible plan that is balanced, bipartisan, and makes the investments our seniors, students, and veterans need for a prosperous future.”

Several Members of Congress supported the “go big” effort because they are adamant that without finding a solution to the nation’s looming debt, the United States will lose its place as a world leader. “I urge our colleagues on the super committee to take note of the momentum today among senators and House members, Republicans and Democrats, elected officials and the American people,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).


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