Meet Congress' Debt Super Committee

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Secretary of State John Kerry, then a Senator, on December 19, 2010.

Congress has named the first few picks for the deficit reduction “super committee.” It’s A Free Country takes a look at some of the people charged with determining where to cut $1.5 trillion out of the nations budget over the next ten years.

Speaker John Boehner named the House GOP members and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate Republican members Wednesday. A day before, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid named the Senate Democratic members of the committee. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named the Democratic House members Thursday. 

Scott Montgomery of Congressional Quarterly's Roll Call, says it is a diverse group.

"It's a really interesting mix. It's hard when you look at these people to see where leadership thought that they might find a group that could work together. If you look at the House members, in particular... these Republicans are not known as deal-makers particularly. They're not known for working especially well with Democrats in the past. And the same is true conversely for the Democrats on the house side.. these are fairly partisan people who have not had a great reputation for crossing the aisle to work together."


From the Senate Democrats, the members will be:

Patty Murray

  • Murray will be co-chair of the committee.
  • Democrat from Washington
  • Previous experience: chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Budget Committee member
  • View on debt: "The top 2% of Americans are costing us a trillion dollars, [if Bush-era tax cuts are extended] we will not have the resources to provide a skilled workforce, or the transportation infrastructure."

John Kerry

  • Democrat from Massachusetts
  • Previous experience: chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • View on debt: “The American middle-class family isn’t making it right now. The tax cuts has been wiped out by the increase in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs. The take-home pay of a typical American family as a share of national income is lower since 1929 and that of the richest 0.1% of Americans is the highest since 1928. Under Bush, the middle class has seen their tax burden go up and the wealthiest’s tax burden has gone down. That’s wrong.”

Max Baucus

  • Democrat from Montana
  • Previous experience: chairs the Senate Finance Committee
  • View on debt: “I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts -- additional Medicare cuts -- so long as there is commensurate additional revenue. We need balance here."

From the Senate GOP, the members will be:

Jon Kyl

  • Republican from Arizona
  • Previous experience: ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism and a member of the Finance Committee.
  • View on debt: Kyl was the lead Senate Republican negotiator in the debt talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, where he opposed any compromise that would involve any tax increase.  

Pat Toomey

  • Republican from Pennsylvania 
  • Previous experience: serves on the Budget; Banking; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Joint Economic committees and is the ranking member on the Commerce Committee's Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee.
  • View on debt: A freshman Tea Party Senator, Toomey voted against raising the debt ceiling

Rob Portman

  • Republican from Ohio
  • Previous experience: member of the Senate Committee on the Budget and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Spent a year as George W. Bush's budget director.
  • View on debt: Another freshman, Portman has shown leadership in a bipartisan effort to come to an agreement, even indicating to the Columbus Dispatch that he would accept revenue raising through the closing of tax loopholes. 

From the House GOP, the members will be:

Dave Camp

  • Republican from Michigan
  • Previous experience: chairs the Ways and Means Committee
  • View on debt: “Let me be clear: I do not support and will not vote for a debt limit increase that does not contain significant spending cuts and budgetary reforms.  Our current path is unsustainable and unacceptable.  We must force Washington to live within its means, and any deal on the debt limit should include real reforms ­including entitlement programs like Medicare.

Fred Upton

  • Republican from Michigan
  • Previous experience: chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee
  • View on debt: “I know that exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges.”

Jeb Hensarling

  • Hensarling will be the other co-chair.
  • Republican from Texas
  • Previous experience: chairs the Republican Conference 
  • View on debt: Hensarling opposed raising the debt ceiling. "The explosion of spending is unprecedented in our nation's history."

From the House Democrats, the members will be:

James Clyburn

  • Democrat from South Carolina
  • Previous experience: leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee
  • View on debt: Clyburn voted to raise the debt ceiling and was involved Vice President Biden's debt negotiations. "I entered the Biden group negotiations with two bottom lines: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as Pell Grant recipients, had to be protected, and the possibility of defaulting on our obligations had to be prevented at least through the end of 2012.  This deal meets my bottom lines, and I support it."

Xavier Becerra

  • Democrat from California
  • Previous experience: Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, member of the Committee on Ways And Means and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.
  • View on debt: "This proposal does not speak to the values of America — it is not balanced nor does it ask for shared sacrifice. It does nothing about the main drivers of our deficits: the Bush tax cuts, and the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it does nothing to fix the biggest deficit holding our economy back: the jobs deficit."

Chris Van Hollen

  • Democrat from Maryland
  • Previous experience: top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
  • View on debt: "The most important thing we can do to restore confidence and improve the fiscal situation is to get the economy moving and put people back to work. That immediate focus should be coupled with a long term plan to reduce the deficit. Every bipartisan group that has examined those issues has warned that immediate and deep cuts will harm the recovery while failure to the address long term deficits will hamper long-term economic growth."

The committee will ultimately have twelve members, and is charged with proposing a deficit reduction plan before November 23rd. If Congress fails to apporve the plan that the committee puts forwards, it will automatically trigger $1.2 trillion in cuts.