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GOP names its six appointees to 'super committee'

August 10, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

Republican leaders in Congress announced Wednesday the party's six appointees to the "super committee" tasked with making recommendations to reduce the federal deficit; most are veterans of Washington budget fights.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) named Jon Kyl of Arizona, the GOP whip and member of the Finance Committee; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who was elected last November and served as president of the fiscally conservative Club For Growth; and Rob Portman of Ohio, also a freshman and the former budget director under President George W. Bush.

From the House, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio appointed Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the fourth-ranking Republican; Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee; and Fred Upton, also of Michigan, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Hensarling will be the committee's Republican co-chairman. He and Camp were members of the bipartisan fiscal commission, voting against the final recommendations offered by the panel in December 2010.

A notable omission: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the party's controversial budget plan. In a statement, he said he asked to be left off the panel.

In a statement, Boehner said his selections "are proven leaders who have earned the trust and confidence of their colleagues and constituents," and "understand the gravity of our debt crisis."

"My main criteria for selecting members was to identify serious, constructive senators who are interested in achieving a result that helps to get our nation’s fiscal house in order," McConnell said in a separate statement. "That means reforming entitlement programs that are the biggest drivers of our debt, and reforming the tax code in a way that makes us more competitive and leads to more American jobs."

The Republican picks follow the appointments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday, including co-chair Patty Murray of Washington, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has not yet named the three House Democrats who would round out the 12-member committee.

The fledgling congressional committee has three months to recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade -- a goal that eluded congressional negotiators during prolonged debates during the recent debt -ceiling fight.

The committee must make recommendations by Nov. 23 for a vote in Congress by year's end. But neither political party has shown interest in compromising. Republicans have refused to discuss new taxes, and Democrats will not consider major changes to Medicare or Social Security unless more revenue is part of the deal.

The selections so far indicate each party's leaders were more interested in protecting long-held positions than seeking a consensus plan that could pass both chambers.

Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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