President Obama today (February 18) announced the creation of new bipartisan commission to review and submit recommendations to reduce the existing federal budget deficit. Such recommendations, if adopted, would likely affect entitlement programs, including Medicaid and possibly Title IV-E. However, it is unclear whether the commission will be able to agree on recommendations and, even if it does, whether lawmakers would act on those recommendations.
The executive order creating the commission directs it to vote on and issue a report by December 1, 2010. The report would need the support of 14 out of 18 members to be approved. Six members would be appointed by Republican leaders of the House and Senate, so no report could be approved without the support of at least some Republican-appointed members.
In the announcement, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) were designated as co-chairs. The announcement comes after the Senate failed to override a filibuster and create a commission statutorily.
According to a report in Congressional Quarterly, if the commission approves its report by the required 14-vote majority, Democratic congressional leaders have agreed to put its recommendations to a vote. The Senate would vote first and then the House. It is unclear what the prospects for any plan would be.
“The chances that you’ll have a commission that comes up with substantial deficit reduction that this Congress enacts is close to zero,” said Jim Horney, a budget expert at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a story in the Washington Post.