Guide to the Super Committee

BY News Desk  August 11, 2011 at 4:34 PM EST

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — otherwise known as the “super committee” — is charged with putting a plan forward to cut at least $1.5 trillion from the U.S. deficit.

Republican and Democratic congressional leaders were charged with picking the panel of 12, split evenly between the two parties. If the committee’s plan does not pass by a Thanksgiving deadline, automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion will go into effect.

Meet the committee:

Co-Chairs

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas
Hensarling staved off a challenge by Rep. Michele Bachmann to become chair of the House Republican Conference. He’s known around Congress as the “budget nanny” and was part of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Murray is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate leadership and chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a political arm of the party that works to elect more Democrats to the Senate.

House Members

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.
Becerra is the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and also sits on the powerful Ways and Means committee. He also took part in the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission.

Rep James E. Clyburn, D-S.C.
Clyburn is the assistant minority leader for the Democrats in the House and is known as a trusted adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He is also a leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, D-Md.; file photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty ImagesRep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
Van Hollen is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee and also took part in Vice President Joe Biden’s bipartisan working group on the debt and deficit. He is a former chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.
Camp now serves as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee after two years as the ranking Republican. He helped draft the welfare reform bill signed by President Clinton in 1996.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
Upton has been in office since 1987 and chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which overseas portions of Medicare. He served in the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan. He has garnered attention for his opposition to some Environmental Protection Agency regulations, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he doesn’t think Upton will focus on the EPA as part of the super committee.

Senate Members

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
Kyl strongly opposed the use of tax increases in any debt-limit deal and was a key Republican negotiator in earlier negotiations with Vice President Biden, alongside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, before those meetings broke down. Kyl serves as the Republican Whip, the second-highest position in the party’s leadership and is serving his third term in the Senate.

Sen. Rob Portman R-Ohio
Portman acted as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and before that as the U.S. Trade Representative. Though he’s only served in the Senate since 2010, Portman also served in the House for 12 years. He is seen as a relative moderate on the committee comprised of six members of each party that must have a majority vote to pass any action.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Elected to the Senate in 2010, Toomey also served three terms in the House. A staunch opponent of tax increases, he was one of the first to advocate against raising the debt ceiling and voted against the final deal on the grounds that it didn’t contain enough spending cuts. Although not a member of the Tea Party Caucus, Toomey is expected to provide a voice in line with their concerns.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He played a key role in the negotiations that led to the passage of the 2010 health reform law and was a member of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Kerry chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and regularly travels overseas on diplomatic matters. In 2004, he garnered 48.3 percent of the popular vote for the presidency, but lost to incumbent George W. Bush.

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