Deficit Reduction Committee Members Appointed

The highly anticipated naming of House and Senate members to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Joint Committee) took place this week. The formation of the Joint Committee was required by the Deficit Control Act of 2011, PL 112-25.

The Joint Committee is required to develop a plan to reduce the deficit by
$1.5 trillion over ten years and to submit it to Congress by November 23, 2011. The Joint Committee’s plan needs only a majority vote in order to report it out (7 out of 12 votes). The plan could consist of budget cuts, reform of entitlement programs and tax cuts or other revenue raising measures. Congress is to vote on the plan – with no amendments allowed — by December 23, 2011. The Deficit Control Act provides that should the Joint Committee’s plan not be enacted, an across-the-board sequestration of funds would occur, with the Defense Department absorbing half the cut. The Deficit Control Act also provides that congressional committees have until October 14, 2011, to submit recommendations to the Joint Committee (For additional information, see our General Memorandum 11-094 of August 5, 2011.)

Below is the membership of Joint Committee:

Appointed by House Speaker Boehner:
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI-4th)
Representative Fred Upton (R-MI-6th )
Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5th)

Appointed by House Minority Leader Pelosi:
Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA-31st)
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC-6th)
Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8th)

Appointed by Senate Majority Leader Reid:
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

Appointed by Senate Minority Leader McConnell:
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA)
Senators Murray, Kyl, and Baucus and Representative Camp have Indian tribes in their state/district and have background on tribal issues. Senator Baucus was central to the successful effort in obtaining positive tribal provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Representative Clyburn does not have tribes in his South Carolina district but has worked with Catawba Tribe. Senator Kerry included a strong tribal sovereignty position in his platform when running for President. Representative Clyburn is the House’s highest-ranking African American member and Representative Becerra is the House’s highest-ranking Latino member. Representatives Camp, Becerra, and
Van Hollen are also members of the House Native American Caucus.

The Joint Committee members are, by and large, long-serving members with prime committee and leadership assignments in their respective Houses. The exceptions in the Senate are Senator Toomey who is a first term Senator brought into the office with Tea Party support and Senator Portman who previously served in the House of Representatives and as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

At least three committees over the past couple years have made recommendations for ways to achieve long-term deficit reduction. Four of the Joint Committee members (Baucus, Becerra, Camp and Hensarling) were on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (also known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission), all of whom voted against that Commission’s proposal. Representatives Clyburn and
Van Hollen (whose district includes Rockville, MD, home of the IHS) and Senators Baucus and Kyl were members of the group led by Vice President Biden earlier this year which made recommendations for deficit reduction. The difference between the Joint Committee and the earlier committees is that the Joint Committee’s plan (under current law) will either be enacted or a massive across-the board sequestration of funds will occur.

There will be much more news to come as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction begins its work – it is yet to be decided if any of its meetings will be open – and as congressional committees and the public weigh in with recommendations. Please let us know if we may assist you with communications with Congress regarding tribal priorities and funding for programs serving tribes.