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Posted at 11:41 AM ET, 08/30/2011

Debt supercommittee co-chairmen name Prater as staff director

The co-chairmen of the bipartisan debt supercommittee named Mark Prater as the panel’s staff director on Tuesday.

Prater is deputy staff director and chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Republicans.

In a joint statement, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), said that Prater’s “know-how and experience” are “exactly what we agreed must be the top priority for the staff serving all the members of this Committee.

“Mark has a well-earned reputation for being a workhorse who members of both parties have relied on,” Murray and Hensarling said. “We look forward to working with him and are confident that his approach and expertise will be valuable as we weigh the difficult but necessary choices ahead.”

Prater is a 1981 graduate of Portland State University and received his law and master of law degrees in taxation from the University of Florida, according to the release from Hensarling and Murray. He has worked for the Senate Finance Committee for more than two decades.

News of Prater’s selection was met Tuesday with bipartisan praise.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Prater one of the most knowledgeable, trusted and professional staffers on Capitol Hill” and said that “his expertise and years of involvement on tax, finance and economic issues make him an excellent choice.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, echoed the sentiment in a statement: “Mark’s encyclopedic knowledge, intellect and leadership make him a natural fit for this position. An honest broker who has garnered the respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle, he’ll ably and effectively handle the tremendous work before this deficit reduction committee. I look forward to welcoming him back once his job there is done.” 

A Democratic aide noted that Prater has worked on “big, bipartisan deals in the past that have included revenues,” including the 1990 and 1997 budget deals and the 2007 Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization. 

“If anyone knows how to create a fair, balanced solution that can make everyone a winner in a difficult situation like this, it’s Mark Prater,” said the aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly about Prater’s selection.

The 12-member bipartisan supercommittee was formed as part of this month’s debt-ceiling deal between the White House and Congress. Its members have until Thanksgiving to come to an agreement to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade or else face an across-the-board $1.2 trillion cut to defense and domestic discretionary spending.

So far the members have not held any meetings, although Hensarling and Murray said in a statement last week that most members have begun to review the debt-reduction plans put forth by previous bipartisan groups.

By  |  11:41 AM ET, 08/30/2011

 
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