New Congress deficit panel sets first meeting

September 3, 2011

By Richard Cowan

(Reuters) – A newly-formed congressional panel on deficit reduction next week will kick off months of arduous negotiations that will be closely watched by financial markets hoping for a deal that puts the United States on an improved fiscal path.

The opening meeting of the bipartisan “super committee” will be held on September 8, the co-chairs announced on Friday. It will convene just hours before President Barack Obama unveils his latest jobs-creation initiative to a joint session of Congress.

That initiative and the super committee’s work are both aimed at healing a U.S. economy that has been struggling to grow after a deep recession which began at the end of 2007.

The United States is still suffering the after-effects of that recession with high unemployment — 9.1 percent in the latest government estimate.

Washington’s ability to deal with joblessness and slow economic growth will have an impact on the outcome of the November 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

The deficit-reduction panel will also hold its initial public hearing on September 13, when it will review the history and causes of the growing U.S. debt, said co-chairs Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf is scheduled to testify.

The committee is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in new government savings over the next decade and has a November 23 deadline for doing so.

At its meeting, which will be open to the public, the committee will consider rules under which it will operate, according to a press release.

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