Pelosi announces picks for super committee
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday picked Democratic Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California to serve on the bipartisan House and Senate super committee that will seek $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction cuts by Nov. 23.
Pelosi's choices finalize the 12-seat roster of the panel, with its nine other members previously announced by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Van Hollen is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. Clyburn - the highest ranking African-American member of the House -- is the assistant Democratic leader. Both men served as Pelosi's choices for spots on the bipartisan budget working group this year headed by Vice President Joe Biden.
Becerra is the highest ranking Latino lawmaker in the House. He is also the Democratic Caucus' vice chairman and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. He served on the special White House deficit-reduction commission co-chaired by former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, eventually voting against its recommendations.
In announcing her picks, Pelosi said the aim of the committee should be 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," she said, adding, "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."
The committee now is made up of six Republicans and six Democrats and will be co-chaired by Reid appointee Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Boehner pick Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
The other Democratic members are Reid appointees Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The committee's Republicans with Hensarling from Boehner are House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp, both of Michigan, and McConnell choices Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Pat Toomey, R-Penn., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
When precisely the committee will begin its work is unclear, as Congress is scheduled to remain out of session through early September. But the panel is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years by Nov. 23 and approving those moves with a majority vote. Any such recommendation would then be fast-tracked through Congress by Christmas.
If the panel finds itself deadlocked along partisan lines, then across-the-board spending cuts would be triggered of about $1.2 trillion with half of those cuts coming from defense, and the rest from discretionary spending. Entitlements would remain largely untouched if the cuts are triggered by inaction.