Budget Commission Falls Short

A proposal to form a bipartisan commission to address the nation’s mounting long-term debt just fell short of the 60 votes needed for approval in the Senate. The vote on the Conrad-Gregg amendment to the debt limit increase was 53 in favor to 46 opposed. The vote tally detailing how Senators voted is available here.

Just before the vote, the co-sponsor of the proposal, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), called the vote “A defining moment for this Congress.” President Obama gave his backing to the legislation over the weekend.

A bipartisan group of Senators supported the measure as the best means of confronting the country’s growing fiscal imbalance. CRFB supports a statutory commission.

A group of Senate moderate Democrats led by Sen. Conrad have signaled they will not vote to increase the nation’s debt limit without a fiscal commission. They have been working with the White House on a fall back plan if the legislation failed in which the President would appoint a commission. The moderates are seeking firm assurances that Congress will vote on the recommendations of a presidential commission. Congress would have been required to vote on a fast-track basis on the commission’s proposals under the Conrad-Gregg legislation.

Debate will continue this week and perhaps next week on raising the debt ceiling. The Senate is seeking to raise the limit to nearly $14.3 trillion. See CRFB's recent paper, "Raising the Debt Ceiling."