The bipartisan Supercommittee is nine days away from the Nov. 23 deadline to get a deal passed to cut $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next decade.
But its members are operating under a much closer deadline – one that is less than a week away.
The Budget Control Act, enacted last August to put an end to the debt-ceiling crisis, prohibits the Supercommittee from voting on a plan that has not been made available to the public and to the Congressional Budget Office for 48 hours before the vote.
Boil this down and do the math. This means that in order for the Supercommittee to reach a majority vote by midnight Nov. 23, members need to come up with a plan and make its language public by midnight Nov. 21. In other words, by next Monday.
Further complicating the tight deadline is the need for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to score the proposal before the 12-member Supercommittee puts it to a vote.
Usually, it takes the CBO about a week to score a measure of this size. But aides on both the Democratic and Republican sides involved in the Supercommittee negotiations say that the CBO is ready to turn a score faster than on its usual timetable — as it did for the health care law.
Last month, while speaking at the Council on Foreign Relation in New York, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said that the groundwork was already being set to advance a score quicker in the event that the Supercommittee pushes the deadline to the last possible moment.
“What we are doing right now very, very intensively is giving Supercommittee members and staff estimates of the budgetary effects of different proposals that they are considering,” Elmendorf said in October.
Aides say that close consultation with the CBO has continued throughout the process so that when a final deal is written the CBO will not be starting from scratch in order to get the plan scored and voted on before the Nov. 23 deadline.