The White House has set a date for the bipartisan, bicameral talks on deficit reduction outlined by President Obama in his George Washington University address last week, with the first meeting set to take place on May 5.
The meeting, which was announced by the White House Monday evening, comes several days after lawmakers return to Washington from a two-week spring recess and several weeks before Congress is expected to face a tough vote on raising the country’s debt ceiling.
The venue for the meeting is Blair House, the official guest house opposite the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that usually plays host to visiting heads of state.
Obama has tapped Vice President Biden to serve as the White House’s point man in the deficit-reduction talks, which are aimed at producing a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan by the end of June.
The White House had originally asked the leaders of each party in the House and Senate to appoint four members to the talks, which would have led to a total of 17 people at the negotiating table. It now appears the final number will be fewer than that.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has appointed only two members: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Neither senator is a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” group that has been meeting regularly to map out a deficit-reduction plan.
On the House side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tapped Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Budget Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have yet to announce any representatives for the talks. House Republicans have been critical of Obama’s decision to hold another commission on deficit reduction, noting that Obama previously had not heeded the suggestions of his last fiscal reform commission.
At a Capitol news conference late last week, Boehner expressed skepticism about the idea of another commission, telling reporters that he wished the White House would take the idea “off the table.”