ATLANTA (AP) - U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Wednesday that the failure of a deficit-cutting supercommittee to strike a deal means the so-called Gang of Six is back in business.
The Republican senator from Georgia told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday that the bipartisan group will meet after the Thanksgiving break and craft legislation mirroring the plan it unveiled earlier this year. That sweeping deficit reduction plan included reforms to entitlements, deep spending cuts and additional revenues. It would have trimmed the deficit by about $4 trillion over the coming decade but failed to move.
Instead, as part of deal brokered to raise the nation's debt ceiling, a supercommittee was established. That panel's failure to reach agreement to cut deficits by $1.2 trillion or more over 10 years triggers deep, automatic cuts to the Pentagon budget and domestic programs starting in 2013.
Chambliss said the Gang of Six - a bipartisan group of senators - has kept in contact. The group held a conference call on Tuesday to discuss a way forward. With limited time, Chambliss said, the group's work could be important.
"Can we reform the tax code in the next 30 days? I doubt it. Can we reform Medicare and Medicaid in the next 30 days. I doubt it. But I think we have the framework for legislation that could move the debate," Chambliss said.
Chambliss spoke by telephone from his home in Moultrie, Ga. He had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan where he reviewed operations as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He said he has concerns that a planned drawdown of troops there could set back progress beating back militant groups.
"I am little bit skeptical that we are going to be able to hold our ground next year with the troop numbers that we will have," Chambliss told The AP.