Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a former boxer, threw the first punch with his picks for the debt-deficit Super Committee. Senators Max Baucus (Mont.), John Kerry (Mass) and Patty Murray Wash.) are all experienced hands knowledgeable in the ways of the Senate and the budget. Of course, Republicans instantly slammed Murray. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said, “The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics.” He kinda has a point — up to a point.
Murray is the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In that role, her job is to find candidates and raise money to maintain or increase the Democratic majority in the Senate by defeating the Republicans with whom she serves. So, by day, Murray will help hammer out a deal for the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts that must be agreed to by the end of the year. And then by night she’ll don her partisan armor to slay her the GOP? No wonder Priebus is waxing cranky. But Priebus’s point only goes so far.
Murray, now in her fourth term, is a ranking member on the Budget Committee and she is part of the Senate leadership. It makes sense for her to be there. “The reality is that members from both parties often juggle political and governing responsibilities,” Ryan McConaghy of Third Way told me. “Senator Murray wouldn’t be asked to recuse herself from a conference committee on other important legislation and frankly, neither would NRSC Chairman [John] Cornyn [Tx.].”
Reid’s selections leaves nine of the 12 seats empty on the Super Commitee. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have until Aug. 16 to make their selections. “It’s far too soon to predict the outcome of the supercommittee process,” said McConaghy, “but these appointments keep the door to a deal open. Now we have to hope that none of the other leaders attempt to slam that door shut.” With Republican leaders saying they won’t consider anyone who would be open to revenue, that door might already be shut. I hope I’m wrong about that.