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CQ Roll Call: Infrastructure Disagreement And The Super Committee Showdown

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This week, President Obama made a trip to the Key Bridge to make a case for infrastructure spending as part of a plan to increase jobs. This plan did not manage to advance through the Senate. CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing editor David Hawkings explains why the plan didn't pass muster.

Why did the President's infrastructure plan not pass?

"The cynical, but somewhat true answer is: politics," says Hawkings.

Both sides have dug in on the jobs bill. They had dueling votes on two different versions of a transportation and infrastructure plan. One was the President's proposal, which proposed $60 billion to build new roads and bridges and to lend some money to others to do the same. It included a slight tax on millionaires. Republicans said they would not go for that, so that was voted down on a party-line vote.

They then voted on a Republican alternative -- which was to revive the existing federal transportation program for another two years, but they included some deregulatory language on that Democrats could not abide, so that too was voted down along party lines.

The Congressional super committee deadline approaches -- is there still some hope?

"This is one of the most difficult things to predict of all because the committee has done one thing very well: they've kept most of what they've said to themselves," says Hawkings.

The overt signs were not good this week. The committee, which has been meeting behind closed doors, didn't have any closed-door meetings, which is where the real deals are going to get cut. There was also an announcement that 100 House members had signed a letter that said they would support both tax increases and entitlement cuts -- the two things that the parties' core oppositions could not agree on. But that's only 100, which is far short of the 218 votes needed to pass something.

However, there was some good news for those looking for a deal on Thursday from the Speaker of the House -- John Boehner. He said he was open, himself, to a deal that would raise revenue so long as it was paired with what he called "reforms" to Medicare and Medicaid.

What are the odds that the "across the board cuts" would take effect?

"These so-called "across the board cuts," wouldn't take effect for almost a year if the super committee comes up with nothing, so there's plenty of time for lawmakers to get buyer's remorse about committing themselves to a punishment if there's no deal," says Hawkings.

The leading edge for this effort to undo these across-the-board cuts seems to be coming from defense hawks. Senator John McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and Lindsay Graham, who is another Republican on the the Armed Services Committee, say that one way or another, they will extract the Congress from these commitments to punish themselves with these cuts.


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