Bennet Calls for Joint Committee to Seek Broad, Comprehensive Agreement

Three Dozen Senators Advocate for Comprehensive Debt Deal

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today encouraged the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to seek a comprehensive debt reduction agreement that includes discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform. 

More than one third of the Senate joined Bennet in lending their support to the committee in efforts to reach a broad deal. The members attended a press conference co-hosted by ‘gang of six’ members Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).  

Bennet observed that in his town hall meetings across the state, Coloradans have expressed their frustration with Congress, “Every single town hall meeting started with somebody saying, “What’s wrong with you people? Why can’t you work together to solve this problem?” Local elected officials would say, “We’ve got big problem that we’re trying to solve in our communities, and we’re finding a way to work together. What is wrong with you? What is the deficit of cooperation that Washington has?”

“To see this number of Senators come together, assembled on the general parameters of where we need to go, I think is a great step forward,” said Bennet. “And it’s something that the people of my state are going to see as a very hopeful sign at a time when what we need more than anything else is to project confidence from this town that we can actually get our house is order, so that they can get the economy moving.”

The bipartisan group of 36 senators, representing more than one-third of the members of the U.S. Senate, agreed to the following statement of principles, which will be shared with members of the Joint Special Committee:

“As a bipartisan group of Senators, we will encourage and support the Super Committee in fulfilling its mission.  We are here to support a deficit reduction package consistent with the following principles that should:

  • Include enough deficit reduction to stabilize the debt as a share of the economy, and put the debt on a downward path, and provide fiscal certainty.  We believe a reasonable target is at least $4 trillion, including previously enacted deficit measures.  This will send the right message to the financial markets.   
  • Use the established, bipartisan debt and deficit reduction frameworks as a starting point for discussions.
  • Focus on the major parts of the budget and include long-term entitlement reforms and pro-growth tax reform. 
  • Be structured to grow the economy in the short, medium and long-term. 
  • Work to include the American public and the business community in a broader discussion about the breadth of the issues, challenges and opportunities facing us.” 

Bennet has advocated for a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that includes tax reform, changes to entitlements, and cuts in spending based on the foundation laid out by the President’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission. The ‘gang of six’ and the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici Commission have also developed comprehensive deficit plans that Bennet believes can help inform the Joint Committee. In March, Bennet and Republican Senator Mike Johanns wrote a letter to the President that garnered the support of 64 senators, all who expressed support for a compressive solution to the deficit crisis.

In addition to Bennet, the 36 participants include the following: Senators Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Full text of Bennet’s remarks are included below.

Thanks, everybody. I’ll be brief. It’s a joy to be here with so many people from both parties. I want to say a special thank you to Mike Johanns for the work that he’s done over the past few months with me to help assemble people on letters that say things like we know we need discretionary spending cuts, entitlement reforms and tax reform.

But the voices that I want to express to you today are the voices of the state of Colorado. We are a third Republican, we are a third Independent, we are a third Democratic. And for two and half years, I have traveled the state having town hall meetings, and we’ve talked about this problem, and they’re clear on what they want. They want us to materially address the problem, which is the $4 trillion number that Kent Conrad talked about. They want to know that we’re all in it together, that we all have something to contribute. They emphatically want it to be bipartisan. They don’t trust either party’s go-it-alone approach. The only thing I would add to any of that whatever we come up with has to satisfy the capital market. As Kent Conrad will tell you, every percentage that our interest rates rise is going to add $1.3 trillion to our debt.

Now, this time when I went home during this recess, every single town hall meeting started with somebody saying, “What’s wrong with you people? Why can’t you work together to solve this problem?” Local elected officials would say, “We’ve got big problem that we’re trying to solve in our communities, and we’re finding a way to work together. What is wrong with you? What is the deficit of cooperation that Washington has?” Not just the debt and deficit that’s on our balance sheet. And so, to see this number of Senators come together, assembled on the general parameters of where we need to go, I think is a great step forward, and it’s something that the people of my state are going to see as a very hopeful sign at a time when what we need more than anything else is to project confidence from this town that we can actually get our house is order, so that they can get the economy moving. So thank you.