After a long weekend of negotiations and finger pointing, members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction are all but ready to admit failure. They will continue to work through the day Monday, but it appears unlikely that the eleventh-hour negotiations will yield a budget agreement before the deadline later tonight. The barriers to success remain the same: Democrats want more in revenues and Republicans want more in entitlement cuts. Closed-door negotiations were held throughout the weekend and will continue late into Monday night as the panel seeks to meet its mandate of finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, otherwise automatic budget cuts will be triggered. The talks have been stalemated for two weeks, with Republicans unwilling to back any deal that goes beyond $250 billion in new tax revenue and Democrats seeking to prevent entitlement programs from deep cuts.
The panel’s deadline for advancing a proposal is midnight Wednesday, but the bill must be scored by the Congressional Budget Office at least 48 hours in advance of a vote, making today the real deadline. If no deal is reached, panel leaders are weighing whether to hold a final public session, where each side could present and vote for its own plan, or simply offer a statement saying the effort has failed. If the panel does come to an accord by some late and remote miracle, Congress would have until December 23rd to approve the legislative package without any amendments.