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Super Committee Admits Defeat


The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced on Monday that the 12 member panel failed to make the necessary cuts to federal spending, which were required. In accordance with the Budget Control Act that created the Committee, harsh across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense spending are scheduled to go into effect January 2013.


The deadline outlined for the committee was this Wednesday, at which point a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade was to be voted on by Congress. In a statement Monday evening the panel’s co-chairs, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), stated that “after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to a conclusion that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available.” They went on to state that “despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed.”


Outside of the joint statement from the committee chairs however, Democrats and Republicans are both looking to pin the blame on the other party.


What this means for civil engineering priorities such as infrastructure remains to be seen.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed concerns that transportation concerns could suffer in the required cuts to come.  “Because the supercommittee failed to reach an agreement, we now face across-the-board cuts to programs that are critical to rebuilding our crumbling transportation infrastructure and putting Americans back to work,” LaHood said in a statement.  

When Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), President Barack Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) cut a deal this summer to raise the nation’s debt limit, they created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to define the budget cuts. They also put in place a process called sequestration that would force automatic cuts in 2013 if the committee failed to hit its mark. The Pentagon is in line to take about half of the cuts that would be going into effect, unless the across-the-board cuts are amended.


During the Super Committee discussion ASCE staff met with committee member staff to discuss the economic benefits that our nation’s infrastructure provides and to detail the current investment gap. As the sequestration process begins to take shape ASCE will notify all Key Contacts what the across-the-board cuts will mean to the nation’s infrastructure. 

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