The House and Senate Republican leaders have announced their delegates for the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations with the White House aimed at hammering out a deficit-reduction plan by late June.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has tapped Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the number-two Senate Republican and a member of the Senate Finance Committee. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, has tapped Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to represent House Republicans.
McConnell’s and Boehner’s appointment of only one representative each stands in contrast to House and Senate Democrats’ selection of two delegates each. Democrats generally have been enthusiastic about the deficit talks, which will be led by Vice President Biden, and the first of which will take place at Blair House on May 5. Republicans have expressed skepticism about the idea of another deficit commission, particularly one comprised of 17 members, as the White House had originally planned.
In a statement Tuesday, McConnell praised Kyl’s understanding of “both the urgency of the debt crisis and the need for a significant effort to reduce that debt before any successful vote on the debt ceiling increase,” which is expected to come in the next few months.
“There is bipartisan opposition in the Senate to raising the debt ceiling unless we do something significant about the debt, and I was encouraged to see the president acknowledge that in an interview Friday,” McConnell said. “With the president’s acknowledgment, and with the S&P warning of the consequences of inaction, it is my hope that there will be a new urgency from the White House and our friends across the aisle to finding solutions to what we all know must be done. A serious and credible path forward to reduce spending is the only thing, in my judgment, that will get Republican votes in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling.”
Boehner said in his statement announcing Cantor’s appointment that “with a crisis of this magnitude, commissions are simply no substitute for action.”
“That’s why the House has already passed a responsible budget that cuts spending and preserves critical health and retirement programs for America’s seniors,” he added. “The president, on the other hand, utterly ignored the recommendations of his last deficit commission and submitted a budget that would add more than $9 trillion to the debt and raise taxes on job creators.”
Cantor said in a statement that he “remain(ed) skeptical that the Administration will take this effort seriously, especially after it all but ignored its previous debt commission and President Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to consider minimal spending cuts for the rest of this fiscal year.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tapped Assistant Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) for the talks, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has selected Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to attend.
Notably, the White House-led talks will not include any members of the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Six,” which has been meeting regularly to hash out its own deficit-reduction plan.