As of this afternoon, all 12 members of the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction have now been chosen. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will co-chair the panel. The other committee members are: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Assistant Democratic Leader Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman Xaiver Becerra (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).
Their task will be to find bipartisan consensus on at least $1.5 trillion in further deficit reductions over the next decade, a task that always looked daunting but now appears even more so now that the committee members have been revealed. Hensarling and Toomey have close ties to the Tea Party, while Kyl, Camp, and Upton have close ties to the Republican Congressional leadership. On the Democratic side, Murray leads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Clyburn and Becerra are a part of the House Democratic Leadership team, and Kerry and Baucus have close ties to the Senate Democratic leadership. No members from the Gang of Six who had previously been working for a bipartisan deficit reduction package were appointed and each party seemed to send a message to the other in their appointments that they will defend their positions doggedly.
While they are not officially committee members, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will play an important role in determining whether the committee reaches a deal or not. In a statement announcing her three choices, Pelosi specifically mentioned the need to strengthen Medicaid, which is encouraging because Medicaid has at times in the past been left out of such statements. The committee will soon get to work deliberating the future of many critical federal programs, and CWLA will be engaged in advocacy while also keeping readers apprised of the latest developments.