Senator: A Buzzer-Beater Fiscal Cliff, Sequester Deal Likely

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Sports fans  and political junkies have something in common: Both groups enjoy drama.

The former group got some Friday evening when Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson hit a fall-away jump shot (above) at the end of a second extra session to defeat the Detroit Pistons. All indications are the latter group will get plenty of drama — and likely a political buzzer beater — as the White House and Congress enter the final days before a Dec. 31 deadline for passing legislation to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

That cliff includes identical $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending, which would be enacted over the next decade.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated Monday that lawmakers likely will be working through the holiday season.

“We’re going to be here, I think, right up until Christmas,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “And we’re scheduled to come back and work up until the 31st to get that done.”

But, no one should be surprised. After all, as we pointed out in a recent article, the modern Congress has shown time and again that when working on major legislation, a deadline is just about the only thing that can bring the bitterly divided parties together.

Is there a member of the House or Senate who will in coming days take the fiscal basketball and play the role of Joe Johnson? Will President Obama seize that role? Or will the final shot clank off the rim, sending the U.S. and global economies off the cliff — and setting in motion deep defense cuts?

(Note: The original version of this post referred to the Brooklyn team by its former name. Our apologies.)

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett