Congressional Budget Office Deeply Engaged in Negotiations

Deficit-reduction committee needs to reach a long-term budget deal as Nov. 23 deadline approaches.

+ More

(Reuters) — A special deficit-reduction committee of the U.S. Congress is deeply engaged in negotiations on a long-term budget plan as it faces a Nov. 23 deadline to reach a deal, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said Thursday.

In a rare peek into the secretive work of the panel, Elmendorf said during a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York: ``What we are doing right now very, very intensively is giving super committee members and staff estimates of the budgetary effects of different proposals that they are considering.''

The CBO will play an important role in the work of the ''super committee'' of Congress that is trying to find at least $1.2 trillion in government savings over the next decade.

As the non-partisan budget analyst for Congress, it will assess the impact any eventual super committee deal would have on government budget deficits that have exceeded $1 trillion in each of the past three years.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Elmendorf said CBO already has done ``a tremendous amount'' of analysis of possible deficit-reduction measures being weighed. He added that while the super committee is ``clearly engaged very seriously'' on a long-term budget plan, ``whether agreement will be reached on a large or small amount of deficit-reduction, I just don't know.''

While sources have told Reuters that super committee members were having discussions on controversial issues such as revenue increases, which most Republicans have strongly resisted, the panel members have given no sign that they have come to tentative agreements on any steps.

If a majority of the 12-member super committee agrees to a 10-year deficit-reduction plan of at least $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23, it would be up to the full Congress to pass the plan by Dec. 23. Otherwise, automatic spending cuts of that magnitude would start going into effect in 2013.

A senior congressional aide told Reuters that leaders in Congress will soon be asking the super committee for details on what it has accomplished so far.

The super committee -- an outgrowth of an August budget deal that also raised U.S. borrowing authority -- has been meeting in secret for about a month on whether to focus on spending cuts, tax increases or both in their drive to get budget deficits down.