WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday rejected a proposed bipartisan task force to reduce record budget deficits, but the White House said it was considering creating such a panel itself.
The task force would have taken on many of the hard decisions needed to close the budget gap and submitted their recommendations to Congress for approval.
The Senate rejected the measure by a vote of 53 to 46, seven votes short of the 60 needed for passage under an earlier agreement.
Commenting on the vote, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters the administration was considering creating a panel itself. What the president hopes is a continuing bipartisan effort to get our fiscal house in order, he said.
If President Barack Obama sets up a similar panel it would not have the legal authority to force a vote in Congress. It would also face skepticism from Republicans who say a White House-backed commission would merely give Democrats an excuse to raise taxes.
Interest groups on the left and the right have opposed the idea of a task force, which they worry would recommend tax increases or cuts to favored programs.
Before the Senate rejected the commission, it voted 97-0 to protect the Social Security program from any cuts that any such commission might propose.
(Editing by David Storey)