“We must achieve a ‘grand bargain’ that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Our entire Caucus will work closely with these three appointees toward this goal, which is the goal of the American people,” Pelosi said. “Because the work of this committee will affect all Americans, I called last week for its deliberations to be transparent; the committee should conduct its proceedings in the open.”
Clyburn is the No. 3 Democratic leader and Becerra is the No. 5 member of her leadership team. As the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Van Hollen is an adjunct member of leadership and previously spent four years as the party’s campaign strategist as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The three House Democrats complete the 12-member panel, which must turn in its recommendations for $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts by Thanksgiving or risk pulling an automatic trigger for deep cuts to federal agencies and defense programs.
Of the 12, ten voted for the debt-ceiling deal that rescued the country from the brink of default, which suggests at least the possibility that the 12-member panel will be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on future spending cuts. The two panel members to oppose the debt compromise are Becerra and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.).
The other eight members of the panel are Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), Republican Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Dave Camp (Mich.) and Fred Upton (Mich.), and Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.). Murray and Hensarling are co-chairs.
On Wednesday, following the lead of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced their picks for the new panel.
“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,” Boehner said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Reid praised his picks for their “expertise in budget matters, a commitment to a balanced approach and a track record of forging bipartisan consensus.”
The question now is whether this group can draw on its combined 180-plus years of congressional experience to forge an agreement or whether it will end up gridlocked in a manner similar to other special fiscal panels established to solve the nation’s economic woes. Budget experts rendered a split verdict about the group’s chances, with no one doubting the panel’s credentials.