Friday, November 18, 2011

Deficit gridlock looms, supercommittee deadlocked

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deadline nearing, the deficit-reduction talks in Congress sank toward gridlock Friday after supercommittee Democrats rejected a late Republican offer that included next-to-nothing in new tax revenue. Each side maneuvered to blame the other for a looming stalemate.

The panel faces a deadline of next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and lawmakers on both sides stressed they were ready to meet through the weekend in a last-ditch search for compromise.

But there was little indication after a day of closed-door meetings that a breakthrough was likely, both Democrats and Republicans emphasizing long-held political positions.

"Where the divide is right now is over taxes, and whether the wealthiest Americans should share in the sacrifices," said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic co-chair of the panel.

But Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said Republicans had offered "a balanced, bipartisan plan - the fact that it was rejected makes it clear that Washington Democrats won't cut a dime in government spending without job-killing tax hikes."

While prospects for a deal faded, House Democrats checked a Republican attempt to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The vote was 261-165, or 23 shy of the two-thirds majority required. GOP lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor, while Democrats generally opposed it, sealing its doom.

The vote on a noisy House floor contrasted to the secretive proceedings inside the supercommittee, a panel that projected optimism when it began its quest for a deficit deal late last summer but has yet to come to any significant compromise. Learn More...

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