FACTBOX-New U.S. panel to decide on deficit cuts

Mon Aug 1, 2011 5:09pm EDT

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Aug 1 (Reuters) - It is called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and it will have significant power over U.S. government purse strings as it crafts a plan to reduce the federal deficit by some $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

The new bipartisan congressional panel is to be created by the deal struck between the White House and congressional leaders to raise the government's debt ceiling and reduce the U.S. budget deficit.

It has been dubbed the "super committee" because it will have broad discretion to consider both spending and taxes. Its recommendations will be put on a "fast track" for congressional consideration.

The House and Senate will not be able to amend the recommendations, only vote to accept or reject them.

Here are some details on the new panel:

* The panel is to have 12 members. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi each appoint three members and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell each appoint three members.

* Boehner and Reid choose one person each to serve as co-chairman of the panel.

* The House and Senate leaders have two weeks to make their selections. Reid said he wants "people who are willing to make hard choices but are not locked in."

* The committee has until Nov. 23 to work out its recommendations and craft legislation. A majority of the committee must approve the language before it can be sent to the House and Senate for consideration.

* Other House and Senate committees can make recommendations to the special deficit committee. They have to be submitted by Oct. 14.

* Congress has to act on the special committee's recommendations by Dec. 23. If the panel fails to reach agreement or Congress fails to act on its recommendations, a round of automatic spending cuts would be triggered.

* In crafting its deficit reduction package, the panel will be free to consider some politically difficult items, such as the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs for the elderly and poor as well as the Social Security retirement program. Defense spending and taxes also will be on the table. (Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Eric Beech)

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