Debt Commission Legislation Faces Opposition From Both Sides Of The Aisle

The legislation to create a 16-member panel to recommend steps to balance the federal budget and improve the long-term fiscal health of Medicare and Social Security has faced opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. The commission would have 16 members — 12 from Congress evenly divided by party and four outside experts without voting power.

The fiscal realities that would face any commission are well documented and center largely on Social Security and Medicare which consume an ever-growing share of the federal budget along with interest payments on the nation’s debt. The reserves for the The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund will run out in 2033 while Medicare’s trust fund covering inpatient hospital stays hospice care and stays at skilled nursing facilities has sufficient funds to pay full benefits until 2036.

Despite the challenges, supporters of the debt commission legislation remain hopeful. Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) one of three Democrats who voted for the bill in committee and is a co-sponsor said getting legislation through Congress is often a long game. “We’re in that classic position where everybody hates us,” Peters said. “We must be doing the right thing.”

Manchin mentioned the possibility of attaching the legislation to a bill in a lame-duck session after the election and before the new Congress is sworn into office.

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