November 30, 2010 / 7:23 PM / 7 years ago

Deficit panel may postpone decision: Schakowsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A presidential commission that is expected to vote later this week on a plan to balance the U.S. budget and cut the deficit may postpone its decision, commission member Representative Jan Schakowsky said on Tuesday.

“There’s a possibility always of postponing the decision. I’ve been asked what my availability is for Friday. I don’t know if that means one more day or more days,” Schakowsky, a Democrat, told Reuters in an interview.

Asked if the commission has the 14 votes needed among the 18 members to support its fiscal austerity plan, a threshold that would trigger a congressional vote on it, Schakowsky said: “I don’t see that, no, at least not right now.”

She said the co-chairmen of the panel, set up in February by President Barack Obama, were still working on Tuesday to nail down support for a revised version of a sweeping deficit-reduction plan they unveiled on November 10.

“The co-chairs are shopping this around to see ... how many votes they could get, thinking that a majority -- 10 votes -- might have some force behind it,” she said.

“There also may be some sort of decision to just trim the goal, that is, rather than having a comprehensive 20-year deficit (and) debt reduction plan, find more like a laundry list of things we can agree on that would set us in the right direction,” she said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs confirmed a report that Vice President Joseph Biden had lunch on Tuesday with the commission co-chairmen, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, chief of staff for former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Gibbs was asked in a briefing with reporters about the panel having trouble reaching agreement and possibly seeking to delay to Friday its deadline for issuing a final plan. A vote was originally expected Wednesday.

“I would point you to the commission and their staff to answer that question. I don’t know definitively the answer to that,” Gibbs said.

Additional reporting by Caren Bohan and Donna Smith; Editing by Padraic Cassidy

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