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US debt crisis: Can a deeply divided 'Gang of Seven' make any progress?

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The upside to such a partisan panel is that if they are able to come to terms on a plan, it is likely to be one that could pass mainstream votes in the House and Senate.

“It’s a test run,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Both parties have their partisans there, and if they can reach an agreement, that agreement might be replicated on the floor of the House and Senate, rather than a panel putting something together that would not stand a chance once it reaches Capitol Hill.”

The GOP appointees join four top Democrats: Senate Finance chair Max Baucus of Montana, Senate Appropriations chair Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Assistant House Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina, and House Budget chair Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Mr. Biden, who brokered a deal with Congress over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, takes on another mission improbable in brokering this effort.

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