Friday, August 12, 2011

Congress Picks Twelve for Its Spending Cut Jury

Congressional leaders have picked the 12 members who will sit on the spending cut jury charged with finding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving.

Under the jury rules, 7 votes are needed to approve a set of spending cuts to be voted on by both houses of Congress. That means at least one Republican will have to join the Democrats or at least one Democrat will have to join the Republicans.

Of course, it's not really a question of finging the cuts but on finding cuts the jury can agree on and present to Congress for passage. With Tea Party Republicans against the deal, and excluded from the jury, that effectively means the verdict has to be nearly unanimous.

I expect the jury will be deadlocked. I will not be calling it the super committee or the super commission or the super congress, at least until they do something super.

Members of the spending cut jury:

Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas (co-chair) - age 54, first elected in 2002. Budget nanny who co-authored a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit federal spending from growing faster than the economy.

Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan - age 58, first elected in 1990. Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan - age 58, first elected in 1986. Put us on the new daylight savings time schedule in 2005.

Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina - age 71, first elected in 1992. The only member from South Carolina to support the debt ceiling deal.

Congressman Xavier Becerra of California - age 53, first elected in 1992. Turned down the position of position of U.S. Trade Representative.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland - age 52, first elected in 2002. Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington (co-chair) - age 60, first elected in 1992. Held off a close challenge to be reelected in 2010.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts - age 67, first elected in 1984. Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004.

Senator Max Baucus of Montana - age 69, first elected in 1978. Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona - age 69, first elected in 1994. Senate Minority Whip, whatever that means.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania - age 49, first elected in 2010. One of two freshman senators on the panel and the only panel member under age 50.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio - age 55, first elected in 2010. U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

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