Aug 1 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
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
* 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)