The Super Committee charged with reducing the federal deficit held its first meeting last week, thus beginning the three-month process to find $1.5 trillion in deficit savings through spending cuts or tax changes. Senate Democrats are represented by Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Max Baucus, D-Mont., and John Kerry, D-Mass., and Senate GOP members include: Senators Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio. House Republicans on the committee are Representatives Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Dave Camp, R-Mich. and Fred Upton, R-Mich. House Democrats on the committee are Representatives James Clyburn, D-S.C., Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling co-chair the joint committee.
Hensarling, said that his approach to leading the committee, along with co-chair Murray is with a sense of urgency, high hopes and realistic expectations.
The entire process has several deadlines, including: Oct. 14, the deadline for standing committees to forward their recommendations to joint committee; Nov. 23, the deadline for the joint committee to vote on legislative proposals; Dec. 2, the deadline for joint committee to formally report proposals; Dec. 23, the deadline for House and Senate to vote on proposals, without amendment; Jan. 15, the deadline for enactment of at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, or across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered on Jan. 2, 2013.
"We have just 77 days left to complete our work," Van Hollen said. "The clock is ticking. There are plenty of ideas out there for reducing the deficit that have been thoroughly debated, and we have a menu of options. So I think all of us would agree that if the committee were to fail, and I'm confident it won't, but it would be not for lack of ideas, but for a lack of political will."
The plan also calls for a Congressional vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. That vote would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers.The committee will meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 13, when they will hear testimony from Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf on the history and drivers of the nation's debt.