The Gang of Six in the United States Senate expanded to seven this afternoon when Sen. Lamar Alexander, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, joined the original six to propose a comprehensive, balanced debt reduction plan. Sen. Alexander brings strong consensus-building skills that will complement those of the original six.
Each member of the now Gang of Seven deserves the country’s praise. As time starts to run out to pass a debt ceiling extension that contains true debt reduction, the Gang’s last-ditch efforts to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat show real political courage. We join in applauding this renewed work by the Seven Senators—Saxby Chambliss, Kent Conrad, Mike Crapo, Dick Durbin, Alexander, Mark Warner, and Dr. Tom Coburn.
The specificity of the Gang of Seven’s proposals is admirable. Coburn’s extraordinary $9 trillion debt cutting initiative revealed yesterday was a detailed, exhaustive product that should help guide the way forward as the nation confronts its debt crisis. Conrad’s $4 trillion plan has been denied a vote in his committee and on the Senate floor, but contains critical recommendations. The behind-the-scenes work of Chambliss, Crapo, Durbin and Warner, and their staffs, were crucial to producing the final comprehensive document.
We urge other Members of Congress and the Administration to support the Gang of Seven product, which contains provisions for tax reform, budget enforcement, and stabilization of the national debt at approximately 70 per cent of anticipated Gross Domestic Product by 2021.
Our best estimate is that time for substantive action is running out. If some Senators do, indeed, use “all” parliamentary procedures available under Senate rules to try to defeat an increase in the debt ceiling, we estimate that a full 6-7 days could be consumed in Senate legislative action. If the House abides by its rule to allow all Members time to review legislation for 72 hours before bringing it to the House floor, the nation will find itself nearly at the August deadline.
A specific plan now exists. It should be passed as soon as possible.