A Democratic aide said late Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has selected Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) as the co-chair of the congressional committee charged with reducing the deficit following the debt limit agreement this summer.
Reid's other two picks for the 12-member committee, charged with arriving at at least $1.2 trillion further in spending cuts, are Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Murray, the highest-ranking Senate woman, has been a member of party leadership for four years and is next in line to the Senate Budget Committee chairmanship. Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over taxes and entitlement policy. Kerry is more of a surprise as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But a first look at the legislative calendars for both the House and the Senate suggests that the supercommittee may face the same problem that the bipartisan group led by Vice President Biden faced this spring: The House and the Senate are in recess during alternating weeks for part of October and November. For instance, during the four-week period from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, both chambers are simultaneously in session for only four days — from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4.
That could further complicate leaders’ deliberations as they make their supercommittee appointments over the next week.
Here’s a look at the key dates the supercommittee faces:
By Tues., Aug. 16: Leaders must name their committee appointees.
Tues., Sept. 6: The Senate is back in session.
Wed., Sept. 7: The House is back in session.
By Fri., Sept. 16: The supercommittee must hold its first meeting.
Mon., Sept. 26 to Fri., Sept. 30: The House and Senate are in recess.
Between Fri., Sept. 30 and Sat., Dec. 31: The House and Senate must vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
By Fri., Oct. 14: House and Senate committees may make their recommendations to the supercommittee on how to reduce the deficit.
Mon., Oct. 17 to Fri., Oct. 21: The House is in recess.
Mon., Oct. 24 to Fri., Oct. 28: The Senate is in recess.
Mon., Nov. 7 to Fri., Nov. 11: The House is in recess.
By Wed., Nov. 23: The supercommittee must vote on its debt-reduction proposal. A majority vote (a “yes” vote by seven of the panel’s 12 members) is required for the plan to be approved.
Thurs., Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day
By Fri., Dec. 2: If the proposal passes the supercommittee, the panel must submit its report and legislative language to the White House and congressional leaders by this date. The panel must also make its report, legislative language and a record of its vote available to the public.
By Fri., Dec. 9: Any House or Senate committee to which the supercommittee bill is referred must report it to the full House.
Fri., Dec. 9 to early January 2012: The House is tentatively out of session.
By Fri., Dec. 23: The House and Senate must vote on passage of the supercommittee bill no later than this date.
By Tues., Jan. 31, 2012: The supercommittee is terminated.
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