Eight U.S. senators—four Democrats and four Republicans—are meeting Tuesday through Thursday at Mount Vernon Estate in an effort to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff."
Democrat Sen. Mark Warner lives just a few miles north of Mount Vernon Estate, in Old Town Alexandria. He is part of the Gang of Eight along with fellow senate Democrats Michael Bennet (Colorado), Kent Conrad (North Dakota) and Dick Durbin (Illinois). The Republican senators meeting with them are Saxby Chambliss (Georgia), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) and Mike Johanns (Nebraska).
Six of the senators meeting this week were part of the Gang of Six who this summer tried to negotiate a budget deal that would both raise revenue and reduce expenses. The Gang of Eight adds Senators Bennet and Johanns to the mix.
Congress agreed in 2011 that if a bi-partisan supercommittee of 12 House and Senate members could not agree to a budget deal, then both targeted and overall cuts would hit, including . These cuts, combined with the expiration of tax cuts inacted under President George Bush, create what is now known as the "fiscal cliff." The United States could go over that cliff in January unless a new deal is worked out, or unless Congress later this year passes a short-term agreement to avoid the cliff and buy more time to negotiate.
"The senators do not expect to emerge from this week's extended meetings with a proposal, but they hope to create a framework for the exceedingly difficult task of getting a deal through a polarized and contentious Congress after the November elections," CBS News reported.