As the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators continues working toward a comprehensive deficit-reduction proposal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he believes the sextet is less likely to produce a viable compromise than the separate group of congressional leaders engaged in deficit talks with the White House.
“Well, I mean, with all due respect to the Gang of Six -- or any other bipartisan discussions going on on this issue -- the discussions that can lead to a result between now and August are the talks being led by Vice President Biden,” McConnell said at his weekly meeting with reporters.
Congress faces a deadline of Aug. 2 by which it must raise the federal borrowing limit. If it does not, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other market experts say the United States would face the prospect of defaulting on its obligations.
The Gang of Six – which is comprised of Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) – has been laboring for months to craft a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan along the lines of the one produced by President Obama’s fiscal commission late last year. The senators’ efforts stalled somewhat last week, and Conrad told reporters Monday that he is unsure when the group will be able to produce a final plan.
McConnell said that while he “commends” the Gang of Six for its work, the only group that will be able to produce results in the looming debt-ceiling fight is the group of congressional leaders from both parties that was convening its second meeting with members of the administration at Blair House on Tuesday.
“That’s a process that could lead to a result, a measurable result, in the short term,” McConnell said. “And in that meeting is the only Democrat who can sign a bill into law. In fact, the only American out of 307 million of us who can sign a bill into law. He is in those discussions. That will lead to a result.”
Obama himself has not been present at the talks, which he has delegated to Biden and members of the administration’s economic team.
The group’s latest meeting began at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after McConnell made his remarks to reporters.
ALSO CLICK: The Post’s David Fahrenthold on why the Senate’s bipartisan gangs often come up empty-handed.