Hopes Fade for a Sequester-Avoiding Deal this Summer

Mike O'Brien

The chances of Senators reaching a "grand bargain" and passing sweeping fiscal legislation before Congress takes its August recess are now looking slim.

Earlier this year, several Republican senators said a deal would have to be in place before lawmakers left for the break.

But now that timeframe appears overly optimistic. Sen. John McCain told Defense News he doubts a fiscal deal can be struck — or even a framework crafted — before the recess.

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He said: "I wouldn’t say August recess, I’d say the fall. I would hope this year would be a better time frame.

"There’s too many moving parts; there are too many players, and things haven’t gelled yet. I think within the next few weeks we’ll see a more clear path to a resolution."

He added that it would take months to put together a package of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and tax hikes that both Republicans and Democrats will agree to.

The U.S. defense industry has been pushing for a grand bargain with at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction moves to lessen the cuts that began on March 1.

According to Federal Times, some key figures on Capitol Hill fear the big fiscal deal will once again fall victim to political squabbling.

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In March Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is one of the Republicans President Obama has been courting, said a deal must be in place by August. But last week he said: "Obviously, that would be better for our country if we had something done by August. … I’d prefer to get it done in the next 30 days. But I don’t think that’s going to happen."

Mr. Corker added the big deal delay is being caused in part by "fiscal fatigue in our country in general."

He said: "I think people are just sort of over the topic. That doesn’t bode well for the intensity needed to solve the problem."