House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have named their six picks for the 12-member super committee that could mold America’s financial future.
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling will co-chair the committee, which has to make its recommendations on identifying $1.5 trillion to cut from the federal budget by Thanksgiving.
The other five Republicans are Michigan Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton and Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Democrats have named half of their team so far. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced his picks on Tuesday. He selected Patty Murray of Washington as the co-chair, along with John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana.
The make-up of the committee is now three-quarters of the way along, with only House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi still to reveal her picks. She has until Monday to make up her mind.
The super committee — officially the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — is charged with trying to find consensus among the two parties when it makes its recommendations. Congress will not be allowed to amend its findings, just vote in favor or against. If the recommendations are defeated, half of the savings will come automatically from the defense budget, and the rest from entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate took different approaches in making their picks. But in the end they came up with members considered reliably conservative. All six have vowed to oppose any tax increases.
By choosing Toomey and Portman, Mitch McConnell chose two freshmen associated with the tea party, along with Kyl, who was seen as a natural choice because he was the GOP’s point man in earlier talks on reducing the debt.
But Boehner snubbed the tea party-backed freshman class. He also elected not to choose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, or California’s Buck McKeown, the Armed Services Committee chairman who had openly lobbied for a position so he could fight against defense cuts.
The committee’s deliberations, which will be televised, should be combative, as the three Senate Democrats are all considered on the liberal wing with close ties to the leadership.
Immediately on being named, Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee made it clear where he saw the cuts coming from.
“I know the exploding cost of healthcare is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges,” he said. “Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government.”
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