As September Begins, Super Committee Gears Up

September 1, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

As Congress prepares to return to work following the traditional August recess, all eyes will be on the “super committee.” Officially called a “Special Joint Committee,” this bipartisan, bicameral group was established as part of the compromise agreement to raise the debt ceiling last month.

This committee, consisting of three members of each party from each chamber, is required to make recommendations by November 23 on how to reduce the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion over ten years. Their solutions can include cuts to entitlement programs or increases in revenue, and the House and Senate are required to act upon the recommendation in an up or down vote by December 23.

If lawmakers do not enact the committee’s recommendations, then automatic spending cuts would be triggered – known as sequestration – starting in January 2013.The automatic cuts would fall equally on defense and non-defense spending, meaning across-the-board cuts to mandatory and discretionary programs and the susceptibility of cuts to the International Affairs Budget.  (Social Security, Medicare and low-income programs would be exempt from the across-the-board cuts.) The International Affairs Budget is not classified as part of security spending for this second round of budget cuts. A second debt limit increase of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion would be adopted once the special committee’s recommendations are adopted or sequestration is triggered.

The members of the Special Joint Committee are:

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) – Committee co-chair
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) – Committee co-chair

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MA)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)