The Washington Post

Why is the supercommittee making its announcement today?

Supercommittee co-chair Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The bipartisan debt supercommittee is expected to announce late Monday afternoon that it has failed to reach agreement on a proposal to carve at least $1.2 trillion from the debt over the next decade.

According to the August debt-ceiling legislation, the panel has until midnight Wednesday to reach a deal.

So why is the supercommittee making its announcement today?

While the panel has until “not later than” Nov. 23 to vote on a deal, the actual legislative language of the proposal must be made available earlier than then. From the text of the debt-ceiling legislation:

“The joint committee may not vote on any version of the report, recommendations, or legislative language unless such estimates are available for consideration by all members of the joint committee at least 48 hours prior to the vote as certified by the Co-Chairs.”

Technically, that means that members have until midnight Monday in order to release the details of a plan — and while lawmakers in TV appearances on Sunday and Monday stopped short of acknowledging failure, the renewed effort to cast the blame on the other side suggested that the panel’s odds of success are slim to none.

“It’s very disappointing,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “American Morning.” “We tried a lot of things. We tried the bigger packages. We tried the smaller packages, entitlement reform, tax reform. Finally, more in desperation than anything else Republicans said last week, ‘Look, if we can’t agree on those things why don’t we agree on what we essentially agreed on.’”

In an appearance on CNN directly following Kyl’s, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) argued that it was Republicans’ inflexibility on taxes that led to the panel’s demise.

“Unfortunately, you know, this thing about the Bush tax cuts and the pledge to Grover Norquist keeps coming up,” Kerry said, referring to the president of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform. “Grover Norquist has been the 13th member of the committee without being there. I can’t tell you how often we hear about the pledge, the pledge. Well, all took a pledge to uphold the constitution and full and faithfully and well execute our duties. And I think that requires us to reach an agreement. We have to compromise.”

Kyl, Kerry, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) were meeting Monday morning on the Senate side of the Capitol, although it was unclear whether they might be making an eleventh-hour bid for a compromise or discussing the details of the panel’s expected announcement later Monday.


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