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Warner Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Fiscal Task Force Legislation

~ Legislation offers a path to bipartisan solutions to reform entitlement programs ~

Dec 10 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner today signed-on as an original co-sponsor of new legislation to create a bipartisan fiscal task force to address the nation’s long-term budget crisis.

The measure was introduced by Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Budget Committee, and it includes 25 co-sponsors. The Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2009 represents an updated version of the task force bill introduced by Senators Conrad and Gregg in 2007. It is designed to create a bipartisan legislative solution to the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalance.

“I have long advocated for creation of a bipartisan, fast-track process as the best way to arrive at workable solutions to cut the deficit and restore common-sense to our federal budgets,” Senator Warner said. “We owe it to the Virginians who depend on these retirement and health care programs, as well as our children who will pay for them, to work together to fix our broken entitlement system.”

“Those who insist there is no crisis are undermining the very programs they seek to protect,” Senators Conrad and Gregg said in a joint statement. “Both Social Security and Medicare are currently cash negative and headed for insolvency. We need to reform these programs so they are preserved for current and future generations. And everything needs to be on the table, including spending and revenues.”

The bill establishes an 18-member task force comprised of ten Democrats and eight Republicans. The panel would have bipartisan co-chairs. 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 the President. This means all of the task force members would be directly accountable to the American people, and bipartisan leadership at the highest levels of the government would be responsible for the panel’s outcome.

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 a vote required.

Importantly, the task force would ensure a bipartisan outcome. Broad bipartisan agreement would be required to move anything forward. Fourteen of the 18 Task Force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. And final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.

In addition to Senator Warner, the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2009 includes 24 other original co-sponsors, including:

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Senator John Ensign (R-NV)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
  Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE)
  Senator George LeMieux (R-FL)
  Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)