Florida Republicans Kick Deficit Reduction Committee
Senate hopefuls bash the Democratic members while Vern Buchanan wants public meetings
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The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was set up as part of the deal to break up the stalemate in Washington over raising the federal debt ceiling. The new committee consists of six members of each party, divided equally between senators and congressmen.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, will lead the committee. Other Republicans named to the committee this week were U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and two congressmen from Michigan -- Dave Camp and Fred Upton. Other Democrats named to the committee were U.S. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Holen of Maryland.
The 12 members will have more than three months -- until Nov. 23 -- to propose cuts to save $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Congressional leaders have agreed to schedule a straight up-or-down vote in December on the recommended cuts, without allowing amendments.
Two of the Republicans looking to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 had their say on the new committee on Friday morning.
"Only in Washington would anyone be surprised that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are loading up the 'supercommittee' with liberals and tax-raisers,” said former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. “Did anyone really think they were going to select representatives serious about spending and debt? This is the exact kind of establishment mentality that created this mess in the first place. That's why it was naïve to think this committee would accomplish anything.
"Washington doesn't need any more phony compromises,” added Hasner. “It needs more limited-government reinforcements who will follow through on meaningful reforms and not punt their work to task forces and committees."
Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, slammed the committee and focused on the appointment of Murray who is the chairwoman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC).
“This kind of politics-as-usual appointment is just the sort of thing that the people on Main Street reject,” said Miller. “The senator who runs political fundraising for the Democrats should not be the same senator who co-chairs a committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in debt reduction. Harry Reid’s selection of Patty Murray sends the message that pet projects and funding will be saved for the highest bidders. I call on Bill Nelson to stand up to his boss, Harry Reid, and demand that he replace DSCC Chairwoman Murray with someone less concerned with winning the next election and more concerned with the crippling debt that future generations of America face.”
On Thursday, a Florida Republican in Congress renewed his call to ensure all of the new body’s meetings would be open to the public.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan teamed up with U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., last week to propose legislation so that the new committee would be open to the public and broadcast on television. On Thursday, Buchanan and Heller wrote a letter to the 12 members demanding they conduct their business publicly.
"This is a pivotal point in our nation's history," said Buchanan. "The critical decisions made by the joint committee should be conducted under the watchful eye of the American people."
"Congress should have seized the moment to pass a debt reduction plan that not only placed our nation on a path toward fiscal sustainability, but also set the foundation for economic growth,” insisted Heller. "Congress still has an opportunity to do this. However, the American people deserve a responsive government that is fully accountable. Most Americans would agree that because of the magnitude of the decisions this committee has been tasked with, proceedings should be transparent and open to the public.”
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