New “Super Congress” May Give Democrats the Edge

Jason Whitman by Jason Whitman on August 11th, 2011

The Republican and Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House named their picks for the new Joint Super Committee (JSC) created in the recently passed debt ceiling bill. It is important to go over the responsibilities of this committee and then look at the members nominated for the committee up to this point.

The Joint Select Committee

The Joint Super Committee, or the “Super Congress” as it is also being called, is composed of six Republicans and six Democrats. The party leaders (Majority and Minority) in the House and the Senate will each appoint three members to the committee. All appointments will last for the life of the committee. The goal of the JSC is to reduce spending by $1,800,000,000 from fiscal years 2012 to 2021. Their job, in short, is to recommend legislation and recommendations to “improve the short and long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government”. They are required by November of 2011 to produce a report of their findings with CBO scoring to confirm they have met the target. This report is to include the legislative language required carry out those recommendations. The report will require the approval of the majority (3/5ths) of the JSC membership. If the report is approved, it is to be submitted to the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and the Majority and Minority Leaders of both Houses by December 2, 2011. The report will also be posted for the public to review (Seems like we have heard that before).

The actual legislative process with regard to the bill is complex, but the bottom line is whichever House sends a completed bill to the other House, the receiving House must expedite its passage of the legislation without referring it to committee (There is a provision in the legislation to deal with a bill sent by the Senate to the House that is a revenue measure in order to stay within Constitutional boundaries). The final vote on passage of the bill must occur by December 23, 2011.

GOP Members of the Joint Select Committee

Both Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner have made their JSC appointments. They are as follows:

Senate

  • Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ)
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

House

  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
  • Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)

Democratic Members of the Committee

The only Democrat who has announced their appointments for the JSC is Sen. Reid. His appointees are:

  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Assessment of Committee Choices

The reason I chose the title I did for this article is because of one appointment by the GOP. Rep. Fred Upton has voted for TARP as well as Cash for Clunkers (h/t Dana Loesch). Upton also voted against extending the Bush tax cuts, voted with House Democrats to require a 60 vote standard in the Senate to pass tax cuts as opposed to a simple majority, voted for Speaker Pelosi’s Omnibus Spending Bill in 2009. You may view the rest of his terrible voting record here. This is a significant concern because it calls into question whether he can be counted on to vote in a logical, conservative fashion. The question is, does this tip the committee in favor of the Democrats agenda? I am not sure but I am certainly concerned.

The rest of the GOP choices seem to be very solid. Please keep in mind that Rep. Paul Ryan requested not to be appointed to the committee.

The Democratic choices by Senator Reid have been abysmal partisan hacks so it is quite disconcerting that they are the appointees. As Ken Gardner pointed out to me, it is highly likely the Democrats feel they will benefit from the automatic cuts more than well reasoned cuts. I am confident Ken is correct in his analysis. I expect Minority Leader Pelosi will probably pick similar appointees and they will stonewall the committee. Only time will tell.

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