The GOP have selected their six members that will form the Republican side of the so-called “super committee” created by the debt-ceiling compromise. The list should generally please conservatives, while still allowing for some flexibility towards a potential solution to avoid the triggers in the deal:
Republican leaders in the House and the Senate today announced their appointees to the 12-member, bipartisan congressional “super committee” charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings by Thanksgiving.
House Speaker John Boehner said he’s tapped House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to serve as co-chair of the committee. He’s also appointing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to the committee, as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s appointing Sens. Jon Kyl, Ariz., Pat Toomey, Pa., and Rob Portman, Ohio.
In a statement, McConnell said the three senators he’s chosen understand the “gravity” of the current economic climate and will bring to the table “the kind of responsibility, creativity, and thoughtfulness that the moment requires.”
Interestingly, Boehner didn’t assign Paul Ryan to the ad hoc panel. Ryan chairs the House Budget Committee, and he will have considerable influence over whether conservatives sign onto the panel’s eventual product. According to Ryan himself, however, he specifically asked Boehner to leave him off of the super committee, and he praised Boehner’s selections:
“The Speaker has chosen three excellent Republican members to serve on this Joint Committee in Chairmen Hensarling, Upton and Camp. I asked the Speaker not to consider me for the Joint Committee, because only the Budget Committee can write legislation to reform the budget process. As Budget Committee chairman, my plan has long been to work on this critical issue throughout the fall. This past year has shown that the federal budget process is more broken than ever and needs to be reformed. If we are truly going to put the country’s fiscal house in order, it will not be enough to temporarily reduce what Washington spends. We must permanently reform the process by which working Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars are spent.
“The House Budget Committee plans to complement the Joint Committee’s work this fall by holding hearings and marking up legislation to put in place common-sense controls that stop the spending spree in Washington. As things stand, the budget process is stacked in favor of those who want to chase ever-higher spending with ever-higher taxes. In addition to cutting spending by $6.2 trillion in The Path to Prosperity, the Budget Committee will take action to reform our broken budget process in order to bring spending, deficits and debt under control.”
Even without Ryan, these seem like pretty strong selections. Pat Toomey and Rob Portman are especially strong selections for fiscal conservatives, as is Jeb Hensarling as co-chair. Fred Upton might be the only one that will make Tea Party activists nervous — they didn’t like his selection as Energy and Commerce Chair, but he’s done a pretty good job thus far in pushing back against EPA regulators.
The question is where an eventual compromise might be found, and how. Democrats have chosen the three Senators for the panel: Patty Murray, John Kerry, and Max Baucus. Interestingly, Democrats also kept a Budget Committee chair off the panel; Kent Conrad seemed like a perfect choice, given his chairmanship and his impending retirement. So far, only Baucus looks like a good prospect for Republicans to woo, and it’s unlikely that Nancy Pelosi will provide another moderate among her three selections.
I’m mildly encouraged by the lineup so far. We’ll see what happens when they meet. In the meantime, however, Congress can still move forward with other solutions as Ryan insists he will do in the House, and that is where we need to focus.
Update: One commenter asks, “Where’s Marco Rubio?” It’s a good question, but I think the Senate selections are pretty solid — and the GOP may want to give Rubio room enough to distance himself from the proposal, if necessary.