WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 – With just 10 days left to produce a $1.2 trillion package aimed at deficit reduction, the 12 members of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee are providing only small hints that they may be moving closer to their end game.


Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the supercommittee’s GOP co-chairman, described the process on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday as a “roller-coaster ride,” but said he hasn’t “given up hope” that the panel can reach an agreement.


“If this was easy, the president of the United States and the speaker of the House would have gotten it done themselves” during this summer’s debt-limit negotiations.


Last week, Democrats proposed a plan that would cut $2.3 trillion from the nation’s deficit, including $1 trillion in hiked revenues. Republicans, for the first time, offered $600 billion in new revenue, primarily through reforming the tax code. The GOP wants the top income tax rate cut from 35 percent to 28 percent, while lowering corporate tax rates.


Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters that the GOP proposal may have signaled a “breakthrough that can lead to an agreement, and that’s what we need.” But several of his Democratic counterparts are asking for far more new revenues in return for supporting the GOP’s tax reforms.


Hensarling suggested that the committee is considering punting some of the hardest details of tax reform and entitlement cuts into next year, a move that might be more workable for leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, who have yet to come up with their own final package of $23 billion in cuts.

The supercommittee has no public events scheduled this week, but small group discussions are ongoing.

Meanwhile, negotiations could be finalized today on H.R. 2112, the first “mini-bus,” a package of three spending bills to fund the government for fiscal year 2012. The package consists of agriculture; commerce, justice, science; and transportation, housing, and urban development and will also have another continuing resolution that will keep the government running through mid-December. It is expected that the conference will be completed and a vote taken by both chambers before November 17.


For other events and reports this week:


Mon 11/14/2011

2:00 p.m., Senate convenes


5:00 p.m., House Committee on Rules will meet regarding H.R. 822, National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. H-313 The Capitol.


USDA Reports: Feed Outlook, Wheat Outlook, Livestock and Meat Trade Data, Aquaculture Data, U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update, Crop Progress


Tue 11/15/2011

10:00 a.m., The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the economic effects of fiscal policy choices. 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building.


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security will hold a hearing entitled, “Protecting the Homeland: How can DHS use DOD Technology to Secure the Border?” 311 Cannon House Office Building.


10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will receive testimony on the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review and two bills pending before the Committee: S. 1703 and S. 1807. Dirksen 366.


10:00 a.m., House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Oversight Hearing on "Forest Service Regulatory Roadblocks to Productive Land Use and Recreation: Proposed Planning Rule, Special-use Permits, and Travel Management." 1324 Longworth House Office Building.


2:15 p.m., U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations business meeting, includes S. Res. 227, a resolution calling for the protection of the Mekong River Basin and increased United States support for delaying the construction of mainstream dams along the Mekong River, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. S-116 Capitol Building.


USDA Reports: Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook


Wed 11/16/2011

10:00 a.m. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifies before the House Natural Resources Committee on “The Future of U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Development on Federal Lands and Waters." 2167 Rayburn.


10:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing on the need for continued innovation in weather forecasting and prediction. 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

2:00 p.m., The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Manufacturing in the USA: Paving the Road to Job Creation.” 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

2:30 p.m., The Senate Budget Committee and the Task Force on Government Performance will hold a hearing on improving regulatory performance: lessons from the United Kingdom. 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building.


President Obama heads to Australia for a two-day trip. He will address Australia’s Parliament and visit the city of Darwin.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack meets with Vietnamese governmental leaders and speaks to students at Hanoi Agricultural University in Vietnam.


Deputy Secretary Merrigan will deliver opening remarks at the American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month Roundtable in Washington, DC.


USDA Reports: Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook


Thu 11/17/2011

9:00 a.m. Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Solyndra investigation. 2123 Rayburn.


9:30 a.m., Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will receive testimony on the Secretary of the Interior’s Order No. 3315 to Consolidate and Establish the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement within the Bureau of Land Management. Dirksen 366.


Deputy Secretary Merrigan will travel to North Carolina


USDA Reports: U.S. Export Sales, Sugar: World Markets and Trade, Canned Deciduous Fruit (PS only)


Fri 11/18/2011

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack meets with Chinese governmental leaders in Beijing.


USDA Reports: Dairy Products Prices, Cattle on Feed, Milk Production, Peanut Prices


Sat 11/19/2011

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack speaks to students at Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing.


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