(WASHINGTON) -- A battle between two rival gangs in Washington has broken out -- a new fiscal commission to control the federal deficit is competing with a separate group of lawmakers.
The newcomer in the fight is the "Gang of Seven" -- a group comprised of Vice President Biden and representatives from all four Congressional caucuses and conferences.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner rounded out the group by appointing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to participate in the talks, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed his deputy, Sen. Jon Kyl. The new bipartisan, bicameral commission is the brainchild of President Obama.
The group -- Biden, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, James Clyburn, Cantor, Sens. Max Baucus, Daniel Inouye and Kyl -- will now undertake the same mission that the so-called Gang of Six in the Senate has been working on for months: trying to reach a deficit reduction deal that can gain traction on Capitol Hill from both parties in both chambers of Congress.
The president's decision to form a new group has caused some unrest on Capitol Hill with lawmakers who felt the decision undermines the work of the Gang of Six. The president announced the new group in his fiscal policy speech last Wednesday, stating that he wanted the panel to start working on a legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction. The White House invited the House and Senate leadership to each appoint up to four members to the panel.
Initially, Boehner balked at the idea of another deficit commission. But after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced their representatives to the panel, the Republican leaders were essentially compelled to go along with the new commission or face being left out of the talks altogether.
The first meeting for the Gang of Seven is scheduled May 5 at Blair House.
Meanwhile the Gang of Six has been meeting for months now and is close to releasing its own plan.
The Gang of Six includes Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
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