Sen. Patty Murray, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, reiterated today that “everything” is still under consideration as the special panel attempts to find at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade.
In a rare but brief question-and-answer period with reporters before a two-hour meeting, the Washington Democrat addressed charges that the super committee has been lacking in transparency, and she insisted that the group was keeping an open mind about how it might proceed.
“We are really looking at everything,” Murray said. “Everything is on the table and we are trying to figure out our best path forward, and when we’ve got some ideas we’ll have a public process to lay them out.”
When pressed about the scarcity of information available about the talks, which have been under way for a month, Murray suggested that the committee would become more open as soon as there is enough of a plan to share.
She likened the current phase of negotiations to childhood disagreements with her brother, which their mother would force them to work out on their own in another room. “Don’t come out until you got it figured out,” Murray said her mother would tell them.
“It’s interesting. Everybody says if they’d just get into a room by themselves they could figure this out, and we are very clear that, however we get to this, it will be a very public process it has to be,” Murray said. “No votes can be taken until we have to make our final decisions in front of the public, and we’ll do that. But I think it is important for us to be able to be open and honest with each other.”
The 12 members of the bipartisan, bicameral panel did not speak to reporters after exiting today’s meeting, which was cut short for House votes. The super committee is slated to meet again early Thursday, and Democrats and Republicans have been talking among themselves throughout the week.
The coming days could be crucial for the committee, given the House and Senate schedules. Starting Oct. 17, the two chambers are only scheduled to be in session at the same time from Nov. 1 to 4.
Murray didn’t give a direct answer when asked whether she was confident the super committee would succeed.
“I am confident the public is watching us very closely to see if we can show this country that this democracy can work,” she said. “I carry that weight on my shoulders, and so does every member on this committee.”