Manchin wants Bowles-Simpson vote

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday urged President Obama to step in to the stalled deficit-reduction talks of the supercommittee, a plea Republicans made last week.

Failure by the supercommittee would trigger $1.2 trillion in cuts to defense and nondefense programs starting in 2013.

If the supercommittee fails, as expected, Manchin urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to schedule votes on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, which call for significant reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

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“For the sake of our nation and our children, I urge you, as president and the leaders of each chamber of Congress, to offer any and all support so that the supercommittee … can work through any impasse in these final hours and come to an agreement that is [in] the best interests of our future,” Manchin wrote in a letter to Obama, Reid and Boehner. “Simply put, the supercommittee cannot fail.”

He also addressed the letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Manchin warned that failure could contribute to the potential for future credit rating downgrades and market volatility.


“If the supercommittee fails, I respectfully ask that you help us prove to the American people that we can still do our job at this critical juncture,” Manchin wrote. “I urge you to give the entire Congress a vote on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission.”

A group of three Senate Republicans and three Senate Democrats, known as the Gang of Six, spent much of this year working on an agreement to put the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission into legislative language.

The Gang of Six agreed to a legislative framework, but the details weren't translated to legislative language.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) says the group has a bill, and Senate sources say his staff has taken the lead in drafting legislative language. But aides to other members of the Gang of Six say the legislation is not ready for a vote.

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The Bowles-Simpson commission recommended limiting future spending growth to half the projected rate of inflation through 2020.

Its plan proposed slashing Pentagon spending by just over $100 billion, a military pay freeze and sizable annual cuts to military acquisition coffers by making major changes or killing programs such as the F-35 fighter and V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.

It proposed reducing the U.S. military footprint in Europe and Asia, as well.

— John T. Bennett contributed to this report.