This week Congress begins new deficit-reduction talks and also has less than a month to finish spending bills or risk a government shutdown. The "super committee" of six Democrats and six Republicans—formally called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—created through the recent legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling, met for the first time September 8th to organize and will hold a public policy hearing on September 13th. The committee's co-chairs Senator Murray (D-WA) and Representative Hensarling (R-TX) had never met each other before beginning began their arduous task Thursday of recommending to Congress $1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years November 23rd.
Senator Kyl (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he will ask fellow committee members to immediately rule out recommending new tax revenue and major entitlement reforms as it believes such recommendations will "derail" the panel. Kyl also said he told congressional leaders he would not serve on the debt super committee if it planned to consider further Pentagon budget cuts. Some believe the committee will start by looking at savings identified in talks led by Vice President Biden.
However, the so-called "Biden group", which included four lawmakers who serve on the joint deficit reduction committee—Senators Baucus (D-MT) and Kyl and Representatives Clyburn (D-SC) and Van Hollen (D-MD)—never produced a product. Cantor and Kyl pulled out of the group in late June amid a dispute over taxes. The panel also may draw on the work of the Senate’s so-called Gang of Six, whose long-term budget-cutting proposals never gained traction in the summer showdown over raising the debt limit, and on the recommendations from late 2010 made by President Obama's fiscal commission. The other members of the committee are: Senators Kerry (D-MA), Portman (R-OH), Toomey (PA) and Representatives Becerra (D-CA), Camp (R-MI), and Upton (R-MI).