It’s the best guessing game in town: Which 12 lawmakers—six from the House, six from the Senate, divided evenly by party—will serve on the special committee charged under the debt deal with trimming at least $1.5 trillion in spending between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2021?
Nine have already been named. Below, look through photos of the nine members and a look at potential picks for the remaining three spots.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has selected Republican Reps. Jeb Hensarling, Texas, Dave Camp, Mich., and Fred Upton, Mich., to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Hensarling will serve as co-chairman, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell named Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., named Democratic Sens. Murray of Washington, Max Baucus of Montana, and John Kerry of Massachusetts to the new super-committee, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with Reid’s decision, which is expected to be made public as early as Wednesday.
The panel’s members—chosen by the party leaders in each chamber—will prefigure its final product, to be fast-tracked, shielded from filibuster or amendment, and voted on by Christmas. And unless the committee has some product by Thanksgiving, across-the-board cuts are set to take effect.
Several schools of thought exist on how the Debtor’s Dozen will be chosen. Among them: Nobody who is up for reelection in 2012 wants to go anywhere near it, because of the inevitable politically toxic contours of what at least some members of the committee will push. As one former senior Senate Democratic leadership aide put it, “How many people are going to want to serve on the goddamn thing?”
Another factor: satisfying the ideological bases of both parties. Republicans are avowedly opposed to including tax hikes in the deal, and Boehner has a restive tea party caucus he’s still learning to finesse. McConnell has lined up with Boehner against a tax push.
Democrats want to safeguard entitlement programs by raising taxes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has fashioned herself as the last line of defense for the social-safety net.
All of which means that the parties could again be at loggerheads (see House, Blair and Bargain, Grand).