Via everywhere, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has chosen Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) for the Super Congress, the bipartisan committee charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. They will make up 1/4 of the 12-member committee: the other Majority and Minority Leaders in each chamber of Congress will chose the other nine.
None of the three were part of the Gang of Six, the bipartisan Senate group that devised a deficit reduction plan this year. Baucus appeared on the Bowles-Simpson Catfood Commission, but ultimately voted against the recommendations. He also was part of the Biden talks during the debt limit. The Huffington Post had reported that Baucus wouldn’t be part of the committee.
Murray is the head of the DSCC, the campaign arm for Senate Dems, and next year will likely be consumed with protecting conservative Democrats in tight elections in states like Montana, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia.
Senator Kerry also endorsed that goal. The United States must show the markets that it is “deadly serious about dealing with its long-term structural debt,” he said, and the way to do that is by “putting a plan on the table, $4 trillion plus, if necessary.”
None of the three are up for re-election in 2012, perhaps the most important characteristic qualifying them for the position.
The rest of the committee members must be named by August 16, but in a way this was the most important announcement of the four. If there’s going to be slippage from any hardline positions on entitlements or taxes, it’s going to come from the Senate Dems, in all likelihood.
UPDATE: I’ll put Reid’s release on the flip. One interesting part of this is that Murray is the co-chair.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that he will appoint Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC). Senator Reid has appointed Senator Murray as the co-chair of the JSC. Speaker Boehner will appoint the other co-chair.
The JSC was originally conceived by Senator Reid during the negotiations that led to passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Act created the JSC to devise a long-term approach to reducing our nation’s deficit. The bipartisan, bicameral committee will be comprised of 12 members, 6 from each Chamber, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The JSC is charged with developing legislation to achieve at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. The committee has been given broad leeway to examine all areas for deficit reduction, and its legislation will be given expedited consideration, with a guaranteed up-or-down vote in the Senate before Christmas.
Senator Reid issued the following statement regarding the appointments:
“The Joint Select Committee has been charged with forging the balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that the American people, the markets and rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s are demanding. To achieve that goal, I have appointed three senators who each posses an expertise in budget matters, a commitment to a balanced approach and a track record of forging bipartisan consensus.
“I have great faith in Senator Murray as the co-chair of the committee. Her years of experience on the Senate Budget and Appropriations committees have given her a depth of knowledge on budget issues, and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines. Senators Baucus and Kerry are two of the Senate’s most respected and experienced legislators. Their legislative accomplishments are matched only by their records of forging strong bonds with their Republican colleagues.
“As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee. I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship, and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people.”