That Washington

Sen. Patty Murray to Co-Chair Deficit Panel

By Josh Feit August 9, 2011

D.C. news site Politico reports that US Sen. Patty Murray will be the Democrats' pick to chair the bipartisan deficit reduction committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in savings by late November in the wake of the debt limit deal.

If the committee fails to come up with something, Congress must approve a balanced budget amendment or mandate cuts to Medicare and the Pentagon. Also on the committee from the Democratic side, according to Politico: Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.)

The debt limit deal already cut $9 billion.

We have a call in to Sen. Murray.

UPDATE:

Sen. Murray's office confirmed the story and sent us a statement from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid:
REID ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS TO JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON DEFICIT REDUCTION

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that he will appoint Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC). Senator Reid has appointed Senator Murray as the co-chair of the JSC. Speaker Boehner will appoint the other co-chair.

The JSC was originally conceived by Senator Reid during the negotiations that led to passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Act created the JSC to devise a long-term approach to reducing our nation’s deficit. The bipartisan, bicameral committee will be comprised of 12 members, 6 from each Chamber, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The JSC is charged with developing legislation to achieve at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. The committee has been given broad leeway to examine all areas for deficit reduction, and its legislation will be given expedited consideration, with a guaranteed up-or-down vote in the Senate before Christmas.

Senator Reid issued the following statement regarding the appointments:

“The Joint Select Committee has been charged with forging the balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that the American people, the markets and rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s are demanding. To achieve that goal, I have appointed three senators who each posses an expertise in budget matters, a commitment to a balanced approach and a track record of forging bipartisan consensus.

“I have great faith in Senator Murray as the co-chair of the committee. Her years of experience on the Senate Budget and Appropriations committees have given her a depth of knowledge on budget issues, and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines. Senators Baucus and Kerry are two of the Senate’s most respected and experienced legislators. Their legislative accomplishments are matched only by their records of forging strong bonds with their Republican colleagues.

“As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee. I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship, and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people.”

Republicans reacted negatively to the announcement that Murray, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was Reid's choice to co-chair the committee. The New York Times reports:
Her selection to lead the new panel raised eyebrows among some Republicans because she is also chairwoman of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In that role, Mrs. Murray recently assailed Republican candidates, saying they wanted to “end Medicare as we know it’’ and “turn it into a voucher program run by for-profit insurance companies in order to pay for more giveaways to oil companies and the very rich.’’

Senator Reid said that Mrs. Murray, a senator since 1993, had deep knowledge of budget issues and had shown an ability to “work across party lines.’’ That skill will be useful in the joint committee, which will be evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with a simple seven-vote majority needed to make recommendations.

“The world is watching the work of this committee,’’ Mr. Reid said.

The Republicans sent out the following statement late this afternoon:
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to withdraw DSCC Chair Patty Murray’s appointment to the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:

“Harry Reid’s appointment of Patty Murray to Co-Chair the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction. As Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Murray is the Senate Democrats’ fundraiser-in-chief. The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics. Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately withdraw her appointment.”
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