Even before our elected representatives returned to Washington D.C. yesterday, they had already managed to get into a fight about when President Barack Obama should give his jobs speech. Why a debate for the GOP nomination is more important than the President’s address to the nation is beyond me. But in any event, what everyone will have their eyes on this legislative session is the super committee.
If you don’t remember, the super committee was created in the deal to raise the debt ceiling. The committee must come up with a proposal by November 23 with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, which will be presented to the full Congress. The committee’s proposal can be voted down, but if nothing is approved by December 23, automatic cuts will take place that will harm everyone.
The members of the committee are: Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jon Kyle (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). A lot of elected officials wanted to be on this committee, so it’s fair to say the people who were picked are no pushovers and all have senior ranking within their parties. However, here are the members I think are worth looking out for:
The most surprising member of this committee is John Kerry. While the other members are either on the budget or tax committee or in their party’s leadership, Kerry is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Although that position remains a coveted spot, it has almost nothing to do with the budget. However, Kerry is not constrained by the same factors as other members. He does not need to worry about losing his seat any time soon, and he is one of the richest members of Congress. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, and he carries a lot of influence among senior members in both parties.
I would also keep a close eye on two other members. The first is Max Baucus. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he is more well-versed in the nuances of the federal budget than most members. While he also has experience in both chambers of Congress, having to navigate through the Senate’s smaller committee might give him a tactical advantage over the members of the House. Baucus also has a history of getting bipartisan legislation passed through a committee. While he is not chairing the super committee, he is respected by both parties, and he is a moderate by all standards. As someone who is up for reelection, he needs to make sure nothing too controversial finds its way into the final proposal.
The other member to pay close attention to is David Camp. It was controversial to select two members from Michigan to serve on the committee, but Camp is chairman of the all-powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House. While he is not a member of the leadership, it is important for everyone to get along with him if they want to make sure their pet projects are not cut. Like Baucus, he is also a moderate and recently said he would not rule out increasing taxes. Tea Party websites are already complaining about this possibility. Camp is considered a moderate but could still be challenged by Tea Party members. He has a lot of influence and a lot to lose if something controversial winds up in the committee’s final proposal.