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Supercommittee seeks advice from 'Gang of Six'

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The bipartisan debt supercommittee on Wednesday was briefed by another congressional debt reduction panel, the so called “Gang of Six,” though it’s uncertain if the meeting helped the former group inch any closer to its goal of finding at least $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal spending by late November.

The 12-member supercommittee invited Gang of Six members to speak about their $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan. Members of both groups were tight-lipped about what was discussed when they emerged from the closed door meeting at the Capitol.

“This [supercommittee] is operating in a very serious way, and we had a very serious meeting,” said Sen. Kent Congrad, North Dakota Democrat and Gang of Six member. “We very much appreciated the chance to get into significant detail” regarding the Gang of Six’s proposal.

“I’m optimistic that they’ll do what is really necessary for the country.”

Another Gang of Sixer, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, characterized the discussion as “frank and open.”

“We emphasize and sympathize with the overwhelming job these folks have,” he said. “Let me tell you, they are very very serious about the work they’ve been challenged to do.”

The other members of the Gang of Six include Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, and Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The supercommitee, formally called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, must vote by Thanksgiving on a 10-year plan to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion, on which the House and Senate would vote before Christmas. Failure to pass a package would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that would affect a wide range of domestic programs, as well as the Pentagon.

The deficit panel, which includes six members from both the House and Senate equally divided by party, is expected to meet again tomorrow without the Gang of Six.

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