With all eyes on the 12 members of Congress hunkered down trying to find a pathway toward a supercommittee deal, other members of Congress are left on Capitol Hill now with little sway in a final deal but with plenty to say.
As the negotiations stall with the clock ticking down, members of Congress have started to become much more vocal in their recommendations and urging of their colleagues to get a deficit deal done now.
A pessimistic Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said today he doubts the committee will be able to reach an agreement, and disputed its very formation.
“Congress has taken a great risk in turning over to a committee of 12 this responsibility,” Sessions said on the Senate floor today. “It’s going to be difficult for them to reach an agreement. If they don’t, damaging sequestration could occur. If they do reach an agreement, we’ve got to be sure it’s an honest agreement that actually achieves what they promise, which is a minimum of $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction.”
Other members of Congress have teamed up to hold press conferences or rallies, urging the committee members to hear their warnings on what should and should not make up parts of the final deal.
Today, that took the form of gold alarm clocks being delivered to members of the supercommittee by Democratic senators and representatives who wanted to send the message that, “time is running out,” and to urge the members not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the final deal.
“We are not going to allow them to cut Social Security,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said to a group of senior citizens gathered at an event staged more as a pep rally to urge the supercommittee toward not cutting their benefits.
“We want to welcome you to the first meeting of Occupy the Joint Committee,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., told the group about the supercommittee.
Mikulski said that Social Security did not cause the nation to go into such deep debt, so the program should not be on the chopping block.
“They say that all things are on the table. Well, I don’t know if all things should be on the table,” Mikulski said. “Get it off this table.”
Some aren’t even waiting for the supercommittee’s deal.
Republican members of Congress like Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined conservative FreedomWorks today for a tea party rally they said was their “response” to the supercommittee’s “likely disappointing findings.”