This week, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction began to take shape, as each of the four Congressional leaders announced their appointments. The Joint Committee, which was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011, has been charged with the task of finding $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by the end of November. Other action on Capitol Hill slowed down this week as Members of Congress returned to their districts for the August recess.
“Super Committee” Takes Shape
This week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced their picks for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The 12-member committee will hold its first meeting on September 16th, and must vote on a debt-reduction proposal by November 23rd. Should it pass, it will be sent to the House and Senate for votes before December 23rd.
All six Republican committee members were appointed by Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell early this week. They are: Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), freshman Senator and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Rob Portman (R-OH), and freshman Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Minority Leader Pelosi also announced their appointees for the committee this week. Their picks include: Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry (D-MA), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-SC).
Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Jeb Hensarling will co-chair the committee. If their proposal – which may include Social Security, Medicare, and tax reform – is not adopted by Congress, automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion will be triggered in 2013. Those cuts would significantly minimize defense spending, and would result in a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers.
TSCL’s legislative staff will continue to monitor the Joint Committee’s progress, and will work to educate Members of Congress about the harms that could result from harsh cuts to Social Security and Medicare.