Fresh off re-election to his second term, Sen. Bob Corker wasted no time in urging President Barack Obama to work with his House and Senate colleagues to tackle fiscal issues facing the nation.
On Wednesday, the senator issued a short statement calling on the president and Congress to “pass a bill now.” Although Corker’s sentiments echoed similar statements made by members of GOP leadership on the day following the president’s re-election, Corker’s words offered few specifics as to what a bipartisan bill geared toward fiscal reform might look like.
“I believe all sides understand the issues that need to be addressed, we have discussed them for years, and I firmly believe both sides want to address this and move behind it,” Corker said. “Let’s pass a bill now that implements policies and reforms that put our country on a path to solvency and not some process-only bill that kicks the can down the road. It’s time to address this critical issue and get it behind us, so we can focus on the greatness of this country again.”
Corker made no mention in his statement of a bipartisan, comprehensive legislative package he had hinted at introducing in the period following the election.
Despite early reports that the senator would introduce his legislation as soon as September, Corker instead said he had decided to “work quietly” on the plan until lawmakers reconvened in Washington, D.C., with a clearer outlook as to the makeup of power in Congress and the White House.
On Thursday morning, Corker mentioned his plan while offering comments on the nation’s fiscal outlook on the Bloomberg TV morning show “Surveillance.”
When asked for his opinions on recommendations made in the 2010 Simpson-Bowles deficit plan that could still be applicable today, the senator said he thought the plan had been good for generating thoughtful discussion but fell short on specific legislative recommendations.
Corker mentioned his own plan, but kept quiet as to what the details of his reform package would entail.
“You know, you can’t pass platitudes; you’ve got to have legislative language,” he said. “In our office, we’ve taken 11 months to write a soup-to-nuts real bill, OK, that implements-it’s not a process bill. And so look, there’s a lot of Bowles-Simpson that’s been great for our country, it’s got some great concepts for our country, but you’ve got to have some legislative language.”
It remains to be seen what Corker’s role will be in discussions on addressing the “fiscal cliff”-a combined $668 billion of tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to go into effect at the year’s end if Congress and the president cannot reach an agreement for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
Deliberations for how to best address the cliff are expected to dominate the lame-duck session of Congress, which begins when lawmakers reconvene in Washington next week.