Today, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) named Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) to the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Not Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)? House leadership offices report he asked not to be named. Ostensibly he could then serve as an outside resource for the committee, but immediately the buzz started: Is he leaving his options open for a presidential run?
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell named Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to the committee.
It will be hard to characterize the picks as “squishy” since both the House and Senate picks are tough conservatives. Toomey opposed the deficit deal, giving the committee (McConnell would hope) credibility with the far right. Hensarling was the past chair of the hard-line House Republican Study Committee, and is still a member. There are savvy tax and budget gurus (Portman, Camp) and very robust defenders of national security (especially Kyl).
And still you wonder how there is going to be a deal struck. With liberals (and not very imaginative ones) from the Senate Democrats it is not clear how exactly a deal is to emerge.
To add to the fun, a confab of liberal groups has sent a letter to the House and Senate demanding that the committee members “from the time they are selected to the time their plan is voted on, 1. Cease all political fundraising for themselves, their party, or for other candidates; and 2. Provide full transparency on any meetings with outside groups or individuals regarding the committee’s work, including meetings with lobbyists, corporate CEOs, or donors.” This is tricky for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.), who of course is the head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the chief money raiser for her colleagues. The groups that signed on — including leftwing environmental, healthcare and government reform organizations — are precisely the sort of people who support Murray.
Whether a deal emerges from this assortment of lawmakers (plus the House Democrats’ picks) remains to be seen. But the House and Senate Republican leadership seems to have picked the most conservative representatives who are nevertheless capable of making a deal.