House & Senate GOP Name Appointees To Debt Super Committee

Following on the heels of Harry Reid’s underwhelming selections, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell released the names of their picks to what is now called the Joint Select Committee On Deficit Reduction:

The top Republican congressional leaders have appointed six members to the deficit reduction “super committee,” naming a half dozen lawmakers with conservative policy credentials to make up the GOP half of the panel charged reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Speaker John Boehner has appointed Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) as the House GOP members of the panel.

Hensarling will be co-chairman of the committee. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also announced Wednesday the Senate Republican members: Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio.

As it stands, every Republican member of the deficit reduction committee has signed tax activist Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes, making it increasingly unlikely that any real tax revenues will be on the table as the committee tries to meet a Thanksgiving deadline.


House GOP leadership aides said the decision to select Camp and Upton was meant to demonstrate a seriousness about core policy issues—like entitlement reform and the tax code—while reassuring their rank-and-file that their representatives on the panel would hold the line against efforts to raise taxes.

Upton, a Boehner ally and former Office of Management and Budget staffer under President Ronald Reagan, said in a statement that as chairman of energy and commerce, “I know that exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges,” and that “much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth and begin to tame runaway government.”

Hensarling, a former chair of the powerful Republican Study Committee, is a stalwart conservative, and his appointment should reassure freshmen and RSC members worried that the panel will use its newfound authority to push tax hikes.

The surprising omission on the House side, perhaps, is Paul Ryan, who has been at the forefront of the GOP’s budget battles since the start of the year. However, it turns out that Ryan asked Boehner to leave him off the committee so he could devote his time to negotiating the shepharding the remaining appropriations bills that make up the Fiscal Year 2012 budget:

“The Speaker has chosen three excellent Republican members to serve on this Joint Committee in Chairmen Hensarling, Upton and Camp. I asked the Speaker not to consider me for the Joint Committee, because only the Budget Committee can write legislation to reform the budget process. As Budget Committee chairman, my plan has long been to work on this critical issue throughout the fall. This past year has shown that the federal budget process is more broken than ever and needs to be reformed. If we are truly going to put the country’s fiscal house in order, it will not be enough to temporarily reduce what Washington spends. We must permanently reform the process by which working Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars are spent.

“The House Budget Committee plans to complement the Joint Committee’s work this fall by holding hearings and marking up legislation to put in place common-sense controls that stop the spending spree in Washington. As things stand, the budget process is stacked in favor of those who want to chase ever-higher spending with ever-higher taxes. In addition to cutting spending by $6.2 trillion in The Path to Prosperity, the Budget Committee will take action to reform our broken budget process in order to bring spending, deficits and debt under control.”

Perhaps of more interest is the fact that Boehner did not include a House Freshman on the list (in contrast to McConnell, who included two Freshman Senators) and while Hensarling’s presence may reassure some House Freshman, one wonders if his role in denying a leadership role to Tea Party favorite, and Tea Party Caucus founder, Michele Bachmann, will raise eyebrows of suspicion.

The Senate side picks are interesting. Kyl is a fiscal conservative stalwart, but  he’s also retiring in 2012 and may not be inclined to hew to political demands. Portman, meanwhile, was George W. Bush’s Budget Director for a good part of his second term, and Toomey was formerly the head of the Club for Growth. From a Republican point of view, these seem like fairly good picks.

In the end, I’ve got little confidence that this committee is going to accomplish much of anything. With these Republicans and, hardline Democrats like Murray and Kerry, on the Committee — not to mention whoever Pelosi is going to be pick — it just doesn’t seem likely that we’re going to see anything more than the same kind of grandstanding and phony proposals that we saw during the six weeks of the debt ceiling negotiations.

Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I doubt it.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Any word on the inclusion of Representative Dog and Senator Pony?

  2. michael reynolds says:

    These are completely unserious on both sides. What a joke.

  3. lunaticllama says:

    Why isn’t Doug outraged that they did not pick moderate Republicans to sit on the committee? He was very upset when the Democrats did not pick some of the more conservative Senators from their side of the aisle.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Assuming no one on the Democratic side (I’m looking at you, Senator Baucus) defects, this is going to to come down to whether each side prefers the reductions which are in place now to making a grand bargain. Since the reductions in place are heavy on defense spending, and are not supposed to affect Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, but only providers, I suspect that the Democrats are willing to stick with the reductions in place more than the Republicans, so any eventual grand bargain will need to be somewhat better than the reductions in place to make the Democrats willing to deal.

    On the other hand, I am certainly used to Congressional Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  5. Tano says:

    Portman and Upton are the more likely deal-makers. And Kyl, with his retirement, may be a surprise.

  6. A voice from another precinct says:

    “…it just doesn’t seem likely that we’re going to see anything more than the same kind of grandstanding and phony proposals that we saw during the six weeks of the debt ceiling negotiations.”

    Your comment makes it sound like we’re supposed to see something different. You didn’t see the dog and pony show nature of the proposal based on past performance of similar proposals?

    Insantiy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Fortunately, when President Bachmann gets elected, the GOP will be able to go back to its deficits are good for the economy stance and forget all about this silly balancing the budget stuff.