US Sen. Patty Murray, co-chair of the deficit reduction super committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings, convened this morning.

The committee was created as part of President Obama's debt limit deal in which he promised the Republicans there would be massive cuts. If the committee doesn't find cuts on its own, there will be automatic cuts in military spending—a trigger that is supposed to motivate conservatives to strike a deal.

Pet peeve: While everyone is focused on the $1.5 trillion in upcoming cuts, very little has been made of the $900 billion in discretionary cuts that were also mandated by Obama’s debt limit deal. Over the next ten years, Congress has to trim a total of $900 billion below its projected budgets.

Where does that come from? Just like the $1.5 trillion, it’s yet to be determined.

Watch this morning's hearing here.

Here's a transcript of Sen. Murray's opening remarks:
Thank you Representative Hensarling.

Like all of us, I spent a lot of time this past month traveling around my home state and talking to struggling families.

I heard from people from all walks of life—with different challenges, hopes, and ideas about where we need to go as a nation.

But the one question I got from so many of them was:  what’s going on in Washington, D.C? They are worried—many of them scared about what the future holds. They are frustrated. They want this country to work—and they know it can.

But many worry our government is broken.  And at times, it’s easy to share their fear.

This Committee has the opportunity to show the American people we can still come together, put politics aside, and solve a problem plaguing our country.

We each got into politics for different reasons. But I am quite certain none of us came here to engage in the kind of petty bickering that has been dominating the discourse here in Washington, D.C. recently.

We may not all agree on the solutions to our problems—and we may not even agree about what the biggest problems are. But I know every one of us understands our great nation faces serious challenges.

I hear from so many families about the jobs crisis that is devastating the middle class and that we need to work together as a nation to address.

I hear from businesses that are struggling—especially small businesses—that are having a tough time creating the jobs that millions of Americans are desperate to fill.

And, because of this sluggish economy – as well as for structural and policy reasons—our federal government is facing deep, short and long-term deficits—and a growing national debt that, if left unchecked, will be an overwhelming burden handed down for our children and grandchildren to bear.

So there is no doubt, our country faces deep and serious problems—but I am confident we can face them and come out stronger.

Because we have done it before. As serious as the problems we face now are—our country has faced greater.

Our people and our political system have always found a way to meet our challenges, move beyond them, and flourish.

And that is why I agreed to co-chair this Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

And why I am proud to get to work with all of our Committee members who have shown they’re also serious about the challenge in front of us.

It’s not because I believe this Committee is going to solve every one of the problems our country faces.

And certainly not because I believe the task we are charged with is going to be easy or pain-free.

It’s because I believe we owe it to the families we represent to finally come together, and put their needs first and work together to find a solution that will put our nation on a solid path forward.

This Committee is made up of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

We each come to this task with our own strong set of principles, beliefs, and priorities for the country we love.

And while none of us will ever set aside or betray our principles—we must keep in mind there is much more that binds us as Americans than divides us, and we must all be open to compromise and to the ideas and viewpoints of others.

That’s why I have been so glad that as we have gotten this process off the ground over the last few weeks, Committee members have refrained from drawing lines in the sand or carving out areas that can’t be touched.

And as we move forward, I hope we can continue to not allow ourselves to be boxed in or pigeonholed by special interest groups, partisans, the media or pundits – and we are allowed the room to come to a balanced agreement.

There is broad understanding among us that economic growth and job creation are the best ways to reduce the deficit and debt—though we certainly have some real differences regarding how to achieve that.

But if we want to get our country back on track, we must come together around a balanced plan that can pass through this committee with bipartisan support, pass through both chambers of Congress, get signed into law– and that we can be proud to take to the American people.

A successful final product from this Committee will not be one that any one of us would have written on our own—it will have to include compromises by all sides.

We have not been given much time to accomplish this—but thankfully, we are not starting from scratch. Far from it.

Together, we can build on the work of so many—from both sides of the aisle—who have worked so hard over the last few years on deficit reduction proposals.

Now families across America are looking to this Committee to take those last few steps and get this done. The same families that have sat at their own kitchen tables making tough choices about their fiscal future.

This won’t be easy, but I am confident we can do it, and I am looking forward to getting to work with my colleagues on this critical and serious task.

Today we will be discussing a set of proposed rules for this Committee that I have worked on closely with Representative Hensarling. And I want echo what my co-chair has said about them.

I am confident they are going to give this Committee the structure it needs to conduct our business transparently, get input from experts and members of the public, and work together to pass a bipartisan plan that works for the American people.

I believe the American people deserve to have full access to Committee business the way they do with every Committee here in Congress—and I believe these rules will allow us to do exactly that.

As my colleague from Texas said, we looked at how House and Senate Committees operate, and we worked together to make sure this Committee met publically, but also had the ability to meet just among members to discuss important issues.And as this Committee works to bring its final product forward, let me make it clear that that product and that process will be public, so my colleagues and the American people will be aware of what the Committee has put together.Thank you.
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