A bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican Senators have co-signed a letter to President Obama urging him to support the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2009. The legislation, S. 2853, introduced earlier this month by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), would create a bipartisan fiscal task force to address the nation's long-term budget crisis. The bill already has 35 co-sponsors and will be offered next month on the Senate floor as an amendment to a measure to increase the statutory limit on the public debt.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Mr. President,
Many in Congress are concerned with the unsustainable fiscal course of our federal government. To address these concerns, 35 Senators have already signed on to the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2009, introduced by Senators Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee. The bill would create a bipartisan fiscal task force to address the nation's long-term budget crisis. We urge you to lend your strong support to this legislation.
We don't recommend this special process lightly. Hearing after hearing and report after report have told us that the nation's current fiscal path is unsustainable. Right now our nation's economic and fiscal well-being is at a critical crossroad. As much as we might like otherwise, we have concluded the regular legislative process is simply not going to get the job done and an alternative process is the only viable solution. A special bipartisan process like the Conrad-Gregg task force represents the best way to reach a lasting bipartisan solution that will put our nation back on a sound long-term fiscal path.
The bill establishes an 18-member task force comprised of ten Democrats and eight Republicans. It would consist entirely of currently-serving members of Congress selected by Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders, as well as the Treasury Secretary and one other administration official selected by you. All of the task force members would be directly accountable to the American people.
The task force would review all aspects of the current and long-term financial condition of the federal government. The task force recommendations, which would be submitted to the Congress after the 2010 elections, would be considered by Congress under expedited procedures with no amendments and a guaranteed vote.
Importantly, the task force would ensure a transparent and bipartisan outcome. Fourteen of the 18 task force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. Final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.
Over the upcoming weeks, Congress will be turning its attention to the long-term fiscal issues facing our country. And we understand that you intend to make deficit and debt reduction a centerpiece of your State of the Union address. To accomplish these goals, we believe it is necessary to put in place a process that is bipartisan, accountable, comprehensive, and which assures a vote on recommendations before the end of this Congress. Your support for and involvement in such a process is crucial for it to be a success.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Senator George LeMieux (R-FL)
Senator James Risch (R-ID)
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA)
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)