House GOP plan: a ‘working group’ that’s more super than a supercommittee

October 8, 2013

The latest twist in the semantics of the shutdown: to settle disagreement over the government shutdown and the upcoming battle over the debt limit, House Republicans are floating the idea of forming a supercommittee.

The 2011 supercommittee, being super. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
The 2011 supercommittee, being super. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Only they’re not calling it that. The last panel known as a supercommittee, which formed in 2011 to come up with ways to reduce the deficit, turned out not to be so super (it fizzled after deadlocking). So clearly it’s best to avoid that particular phraseology.

What’s the preferred nomenclature, then, for this potential bicameral, bipartisan body? The authors of the plan are abandoning the word committee altogether, calling it a “working group” instead. With its reference to toiling, it sounds quite industrious. Some, though, are still calling it a “super” or a “special” committee.

One House aide even called it a “negotiating team,” per this tweet from Huffington Post reporter Michael McAuliff: 

And with 20 members, is actually larger than the previous 12-person supercommittee, so perhaps folks could adopt the language of Starbucks and call it a “venti” committee?

Other terms up for debate lately: “debt ceiling” (President Obama called that a “lousy word”), “essential” (the kinder term is “excepted”) and even “shutdown” itself (some call it a “slimdown”).

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Emily Heil · October 8, 2013