House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have announced the Republican contingency for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction charged with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23rd.
Boehner’s chose three of his top deputies on tax policy, – Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Dave Camp, Fred Upton. Hensarling will serve as the committee's co-chair.
“The lawmakers I have appointed to serve on this joint committee are proven leaders who have earned the trust and confidence of their colleagues and constituents. They understand the gravity of our debt crisis and I appreciate their willingness to serve on this panel,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a written statement announcing his decision. “This joint committee presents an opportunity for both parties to bring to the table their best ideas, debate them on the merits, and ultimately come together to do what’s best for our country. With all that’s at stake, I expect that the joint select committee will conduct its work in the open and transparent manner the American people deserve.”
McConnell picked Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
“All three of these nominees understand the gravity of our situation and all three will bring the kind of responsibility, creativity, and thoughtfulness that the moment requires,” McConnell, R-Kentucky said in a written statement announcing his choices. “My main criteria for selecting members was to identify serious, constructive senators who are interested in achieving a result that helps to get our nation’s fiscal house in order….That means reforming entitlement programs that are the biggest drivers of our debt, and reforming the tax code in a way that makes us more competitive and leads to more American jobs.”
Of note, Toomey – a freshman senator, voted against the debt deal, but Kyl and Portman voted for the measure. All three House Republicans appointed by Boehner voted for the deal.
With McConnell and Reid’s choices revealed there are no members of the Gang of Six on the committee.
Kyl serves currently as Republican Whip, the second highest position in the Senate Republican leadership, and is a member of the Finance Committee. He also took part in the Vice President Biden-led deficit talks. Toomey is a member of the Budget, Banking, Commerce and Joint Economic Committees, while Portman – also a freshman – is a member of the Budget Committee and served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget during part of the George W. Bush administration.
“With the U.S. debt now equal to 100% of the GDP, Washington cannot continue to kick the can down the road again,” Portman said. “Not only does Washington’s out of control spending have a long-term impact on America’s economic stability, but it has an immediate impact on our ability to generate jobs and opportunity.”
Of the House Republicans, Camp, R-Michigan is the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee while Upton, R-Michigan, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The Budget Control Act made a modest down payment on our debt in the short term and called on Congress – through a Joint Select Committee – to build on those savings with meaningful spending controls and program reforms that will continue the process of putting our fiscal house in order over the long term,” Upton said in a statement. “No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.”
Hensarling, R-Texas, serves as the vice chairman of the House committee on Financial Services and also serves as the House Republican Conference chairman.
Both Camp and Hensarling were appointed by Boehner to serve on the 18-member Simpson/Bowles National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform created by President Obama which concluded its recommendations in December 2010.
“With the recent stock market fluctuations and historically high unemployment, confidence in our economy is at a low and the American people are understandably frightened about their economic future,” Hensarling said in a statement. “The debt crisis is a legitimate threat to our nation’s future, and the American people cannot afford to wait any longer. Everyone can agree that we must stop spending money we don’t have, and the time to act is now. This commission will not be able to solve the crisis in a matter of months, but we can work together to tackle these challenges in order to bring back jobs, hope, and opportunity for the America people.”
The Republican leadership’s selections follow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Tuesday that he has named Sens. Max Baucus, Patty Murray and John Kerry. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to announce her appointees to round out the 12-person committee in the coming days.