September 16, 2014

Super Committee Gears Up

  • The national debt has grown significantly in recent years due to rising annual deficits. A deficit occurs in any year the government spends more...

After Republicans and Democrats on the new super committee held separate discussions last week, the co-chairs announced that the full panel would hold its first meeting this Thursday. It is expected to focus on organizational issues and opening statements from the 12 committee members.

The joint committee, composed of six lawmakers from each party, was created by last month’s debt limit agreement. It is tasked with recommending $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to Congress by late November. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) are the co-chairs.

A week from today, the joint committee will hold a public hearing on “The History and Drivers of Our Nation’s Debt and Its Threats.” Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf is expected to testify.

Last week Hensarling and Murray also announced that Mark Prater would serve as staff director for the committee. They praised Prater, who has been deputy staff director and chief tax counsel on the minority staff of the Senate Finance Committee, for his expertise and the respect he has earned from members of both parties.

The Concord Coalition has urged the super committee to aim for even more than $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, giving careful consideration to recommendations from the President’s fiscal commission and other bipartisan groups.

Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director, has also encouraged the super committee to seek wider public engagement through “two-by-two” programs in which lawmakers would visit each other’s districts to discuss possible solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges.