- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A proposal to create a commission to reduce the federal debt, backed by President Obama, failed in the Senate on Tuesday amid concerns from Republicans that it would raise taxes and from Democrats that it would cut programs.

The amendment failed 53-46 — short of the 60 votes that were required to pass under a deal worked out between the two parties.

Proponents of the commission argued that Congress hasn’t been able to reduce the debt and deficit, so the commission would be responsible for choosing where to reduce spending or raise taxes. Congress would have to take politically difficult up-or-down votes on the panel’s recommendations.

The commission was proposed by Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat and Budget Committee chairman, and ranking minority member Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican. Mr. Obama endorsed the idea on Saturday.

The amendment was tied to a pending proposal to increase the nation’s debt limit to $14.3 trillion.

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The debt currently is hovering above $12 trillion, and the annual deficit reached a record $1.4 trillion last year.

Sixteen Republicans and one independent joined Democrats in support of the amendment. Twenty-two Democrats and one independent joined Republicans in opposition.