Picking up the pace, the White House wants three meetings a week with lawmakers for the remainder of June in hopes of hammering out a deficit-reduction agreement by the July 4th recess.
The accelerated schedule reflects both the political and very practical challenges of the immense task ahead.
The July 4th target leaves time for President Barack Obama to step in and make final decisions with leaders like Speaker John Boehner who are not part of the immediate talks. And even if a deal is reached, much of July is still needed for Congress to write complicated changes in federal programs and raise the federal debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department.
Adding to the urgency is the recent spate of bad economic news and concern that the continued impasse over the debt ceiling is becoming a drag on the recovery.
“The news economically on the jobs front in the last several days underscored the importance of this meeting that we just came out of,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) “There’s a commitment for next week that we will be engaging, once again, in a robust series of meetings to see if we can achieve a result.”
“We believe that many of the problems surrounding the lack of job creation and growth in this country have to do with the fact that there isn’t a credible plan to manage down the debt and deficit in this country,” Cantor said. “That’s what we’re trying to produce here and we had much substantive discussion today and look forward to more next week.”
Revenues were the topic of Thursday’s more than two-and-a-half-hour session at the Capitol, which continued even after Vice President Joe Biden had to return to the White House for a meeting with President Obama.