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 The “Super Committee”

The next stage of the deficit reduction debate moved forward last week when House of Representatives and Senate leadership named their appointees to the “Super Committee.” The Super Committee (or Super Congress…or Committee of Twelve, take your pick) is a 12-member bi-partisan, bi-cameral committee set up by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (passed at the beginning of the month) and charged with finding an additional $1.5 trillion in debt savings over the next ten years.

The Committee members are chosen by both the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate. Representing the House will be: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX, co-chair of the Committee), Rep. Dave Camp (MI-R), Rep. Fred Upton (MI-R), Rep. James Clyburn (SC-D), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-D), and Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-D). Representing the Senate will be: Sen. Patty Murray (WA-D, co-chair of the Committee), Sen. Max Baucus (MT-D), Sen. John Kerry (MA-D), Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ-R), Sen. Pat Toomey (PA-R), and Sen. Rob Portman (OH-R). (For a summary of previous positions the committee members have taken on this issue please see this article by CNN-Money.)

Any plan that comes out of the committee must earn at least seven votes of approval, meaning some form of bi-partisanship will be imperative in order for the committee to be successful and report a plan to Congress. Technically, both revenue and program cuts can be considered as the committee looks for ways to reduce the federal deficit.

The Committee has until November 23rd to submit a plan to Congress that includes at least $1.2 trillion in savings. Next both the House and the Senate must vote on the deficit reduction plan by December 23rd, 2011. If any of these steps fail to take place, “triggers” will go into effect, causing as much as $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts—effecting both defense and non-defense spending—starting January 2013. See this flow chart from FamiliesUSA for a clearer picture of the various steps that need to be taken to avoid the trigger from going into effect. FamiliesUSA has also created this time table explaining the deadlines for various actions.

The Super Committee has not formerly met since Congress is currently on recess.  However, the first meeting of the committee must be held by September 16th. If you live in the state or district represented by a member of Super Committee, now is the time to advocate for the protection of human needs programs including SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, Medicare. We would be happy to assist you in this effort.

Our colleagues at the Coalition for Human Needs and Community Action Partnership will be holding an August 18th “wonk-free” webinar to explain the debt ceiling/deficit reduction plan and steps moving forward. It is open to anyone who wants to participate and you can register here.
If you have any questions on the debt ceiling/deficit reduction legislation please contact Elyssa Koidin, Senior Policy Associate.

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