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GOP Deficit Panel Picks: Hensarling, Camp, Upton, Kyl, Toomey, Portman

Aug 10, 2011

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Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, have named their choices to the panel that will propose spending cuts to reduce the budget. They are Representatives Jeb Hensarling of Texas; and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan and senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio.

There were no surprises, just as with the Democratic selections announced Tuesday by Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader.

And just like Reid's choices, they don't exactly inspire optimism that the so-called super committee of 12 lawmakers, evenly split between congressional Democrats and Republicans, will be able to reach an agreement on $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over ten years which all its members will support.

That raises the possibility that automatic cuts to discretionary spending will be triggered if the Joint Select Committee On Deficit Reduction, as the super panel is officially known, hits the wall.

Hensarling and Camp were both members of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission. They voted against that panel's final recommendations partly because of opposition to a call for higher tax revenue along with spending cuts to reduce the nation's deficits.

Camp chairs the House Ways and Means Committee while Hensarling is the fourth ranking member in GOP leadership as chair of the House Republican Conference.

Upton chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He served in the Reagan White House as an aide to budget director David Stockman. His old boss, Stockman, favors tax revenue increases to address the nation's deficits but Upton is a reliable vote against such tax increases.

The Senate Republicans named to the committee are also likely to be steadfast against raising tax revenues.

Kyl, second in command of Senate Republicans, serves on Senate Finance Committee and one of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus. So it's unlikely the lawmaker from Arizona would agree to any deal that would include tax revenue increases. He has announced that he will be retiring from the Senate.

Toomey of Pennsylvania would be another strong anti-tax vote. He was elected to office last year with support from the Tea Party. He is also the former president of the adamantly anti-tax group Club for Growth.

Portman, a former member of the House, was a White House budget director under President George W. Bush. Like Toomey, he was elected to the Senate as part of the 2010 Republican wave in November. His background should clearly give the panel's Republican side on the panel heft on budgetary matters.

With nine of the panel's 12 members now named, all that's left is for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, to announce her three choices.

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