Washington (CNN) - Despite the fact that the deficit commission did not reach its goal of a supermajority to get its proposals to the floor of the congress, two of its members say their work should now serve as the blueprint for deficit reduction in the future.
In addition, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) told CNN that he believes there needs to be a "budget summit" in the near future-with representatives from both sides of the aisle, the White House and the budget office. "It's essential,' he says, adding that near-term decisions on raising the debt limit and cutting spending have to be made with the commission recommendations in mind.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire), the ranking member on the Budget Committee retiring at the end of this session, made the case that the commission has delivered a "template" to govern. "This is the memo that will drive the meeting if we're successful," he told CNN. "We attracted a strong cross section of philosophical views." Indeed, he added, the commission's success means that "we can have a major initiative in the area of spending restraint" in the near future.
If congress doesn't take the initiative, he added, "I believe the facts are such that we will have a major financial issue sooner rather than later…and at some point that will force the president and the congress to act." He called the deficit issue a "Force 5 hurricane 30 miles offshore."
Gregg said he understood why the House GOP leaders on the commission- decided not to sign on to the plan. "They said we didn't go far enough," he allowed. "But Ryan also made the point that a lot of what we did will be in his budget."
In the end, both men agreed, it's time for leadership-from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The president could, for example, call for a budget summit in his State of the Union speech in January. And congressional leaders, faced with budget and spending decisions, could possibly decide to go along with the idea.
One Conrad regret: "We set the bar so high in requiring 14 of 18 votes to get this to the floor," he says. "I wish it hadn't been set so high." He made the point that the group did manage to get 60 percent of its voters to agree-a number that would be good enough to end a filibuster in the senate.