KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Murray, Hensarling To Be ‘Super Committee’ Co-Chairs

House and Senate GOP leaders announced today their choices for the 12-member bipartisan "super committee," which was created by the deficit agreement and will be charged with finding at least $1.22 trillion in budget reductions over the course of 10 years. The panel must make its recommendations to Congress by Thanksgiving. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled his selections yesterday.

CBS News Political Hotsheet: "House Speaker John Boehner said he's tapped House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to serve as co-chair of the committee. He's also appointing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to the committee, as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he's appointing Sens. Jon Kyl, Ariz., Pat Toomey, Pa., and Rob Portman, Ohio. ... Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed he is naming Sen. Patty Murray, Wash., to co-chair the committee. He also appointed Sens. Max Baucus, Mont., and John Kerry, Mass., to the committee" (Condon, 8/10). 

ABC News' The Note: "Boehner's chose three of his top deputies on tax policy ... Hensarling serves as the vice chairman of the House committee on Financial Services and also serves as the House Republican Conference chairman." Regarding his choices, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: "'All three of these nominees understand the gravity of our situation and all three will bring the kind of responsibility, creativity, and thoughtfulness that the moment requires.' ... Of note, Toomey – a freshman senator, voted against the debt deal, but Kyl and Portman voted for the measure. All three House Republicans appointed by Boehner voted for the deal" (Parkinson and Miller, 8/10).

The Associated Press: "Hensarling will provide a conservative counterweight to the Democratic co-chair, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, in what is shaping up as another debate in which Democrats will fight to protect entitlement programs while Republicans will adamantly oppose tax increases. ... Murray is chairwoman of the committee to elect Democratic senators and a longtime protector of Democratic priorities such as Medicare, Social Security and veterans' benefits" (Ohlemacher, 8/10).

The New York Times' The Caucus: "Mr. Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, is known as a staunch conservative who likes to delve into the details of legislation and policy. He is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and participated in deficit-reduction talks with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in May and June. Mr. Portman, a House member from 1993 to 2005, was White House budget director under President George W. Bush. Throughout his time in Congress, he has worked well with Democrats even as he voted consistently with other Republicans. Mr. Toomey served three terms in the House, from 1999 to 2005, and later became president of the Club for Growth, which champions low taxes, free markets and limited government" (Pear, 8/10).

Politico: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name the House Democratic members of the committee, but her announcement is expected soon. ... Heading into the talks, both parties have already begun to dig in. McConnell and Boehner have both signaled that they will not accept higher tax revenues as part of an agreement to slash the debt, while Democrats have said that a 'balanced approach' that includes more revenue must be considered if cuts to entitlements will be on the table" (Cogan and Raju, 8/10).

Los Angeles Times: "The selections so far indicate each party's leaders were more interested in protecting long-held positions than seeking a consensus plan that could pass both chambers" (Memoli, 8/10). 

Earlier news reports detailed the choices offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

The New York Times: "Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, will be co-chairwoman of a powerful new Congressional committee that is supposed to recommend at least $1.5 trillion of additional deficit-reduction measures, the Senate majority leader announced Tuesday. The leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, also appointed two other Democratic senators, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts, to the panel. Mr. Baucus is chairman of the Finance Committee, which has authority over Medicare, Medicaid and taxes - three prime areas of attention for the new 12-member panel, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction" (Pear, 8/9).

Los Angeles Times: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the first three appointees to a congressional "super committee" charged with tackling the federal deficit, but the Democratic choices offer few signs that the panel can resolve the partisan stalemate that has only hardened in Congress amid the nation's worsening economic outlook. The fledgling congressional committee has three months to recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade - a goal that eluded congressional negotiators during prolonged debates during the recent debt ceiling fight" (Mascaro, 8/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: "Murray, who is chairwoman of the committee to elect Democratic senators, is a longtime protector of Democratic priorities such as Medicare, Social Security and veterans' benefits, as are Kerry and Baucus. … In naming the trio, Reid opted against picking Democrats like Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota or Dick Durbin of Illinois, who backed curbs on Medicare spending and Social Security benefits as members of President Barack Obama's deficit commission" (Taylor, 8/9).

Politico: "A senior appropriator and Budget Committee member, Murray is also the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has made the GOP's focus on overhauling Medicare a centerpiece of the 2012 campaign. Baucus is the chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, while Kerry - the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee - has been lobbying for a spot. But the choice of Murray was already spawning anger from Republicans, who called it a blatantly political move aimed at filling up coffers for the Democratic campaign committee. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called on Reid to withdraw the appointment immediately" (Raju and Bresnahan, 8/9).

Meanwhile, from the KHN Archives: Highlights Of Senator Max Baucus' News Conference (9/16/09).

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