(Reuters) - The bipartisan commission created by President Barack Obama to recommend ways to reduce record budget deficits is preparing a report to be released in early December.
Its final public meetings are set for September 29, November 10 and December 1.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has agreed to schedule a vote on the recommendations if 14 of the 18 members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility sign off on them.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to schedule a vote if the Senate passes the recommendations, which could be difficult given the current gridlock between Democrats and Republicans.
The panel has been meeting since April and is still working out details on how it will present its recommendations and whether members will vote on the package as a whole or hold separate votes on individual items.
Here are details of the members of the commission:
ERSKINE BOWLES, co-chairman
A Democrat who served as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, Bowles is a former businessman and has been president of the University of North Carolina since 2006. During the Clinton administration, he helped negotiate the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 with Republican leaders, producing the first balanced U.S. budget in nearly 30 years. Bowles has said he wants to do more on the spending side than the tax side to reduce deficits.
ALAN SIMPSON, co-chairman
Simpson was the No. 2 Republican in the Senate for a decade. He is known as a strong voice for fiscal balance, voting in favor of the 1990 bipartisan deficit reduction agreement. He has often spoke of the need to reduce spending for Social Security and other entitlement programs but recently got into trouble for off-color remarks in an email.
Cote, a Republican, brings a business perspective to the panel. He has served as Honeywell International’s chairman, chief executive and president since 2002. Some liberal groups and labor unions are pushing for him to be dropped from the panel because of a labor dispute over health benefits at a Honeywell uranium facility in Illinois.
Rivlin is a former Federal Reserve vice chairman who also was White House budget director under Clinton. She was the founding director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office from 1975 to 1983. She says cutting the deficit will require both spending cuts and revenue increases.
Fudge worked as chairman and chief executive of Young & Rubicam Brands and held executive positions at General Mills and Kraft. She has been mentioned as a possible replacement for the departing Larry Summers as director of Obama’s National Economic Council.
Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union, which covers 2.2 million Americans, including healthcare workers, security officers and public employees. He was an important player in the debates over immigration reform and Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Durbin is a liberal who is likely to resist big cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He has said everything has to be on the table for deficit reduction but also has expressed concern about moving too quickly while unemployment is high.
SENATOR KENT CONRAD
Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is a fiscally conservative Democrat who has expressed deep concern about long-term U.S. budget deficits and rising national debt, particularly as the 77 million-strong baby boom generation retires. He has advocated a balanced approach of spending cuts along with some revenue increases.
SENATOR MAX BAUCUS
Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, is a moderate Democrat who took a lead in writing the healthcare overhaul that Obama signed into law. Liberal groups are wary of Baucus because he worked for months with Republicans in hopes of obtaining a bipartisan agreement on healthcare. He has called for tax reform and cuts in entitlements.
SENATOR JUDD GREGG
Gregg is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee and will retire at the end of this Congress. He says commission recommendations will emphasize spending cuts rather than tax increases and that cuts for Social Security, Medicare and other programs are necessary.
SENATOR TOM COBURN
A medical doctor and critic of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, the Republican crusades against earmarks, the pet projects that lawmakers tuck into spending bills. He is a strong conservative but made clear early in the commission discussions that defense spending was on the cutting table along with other programs.
SENATOR MIKE CRAPO
A Republican, Crapo is a member of the Senate’s banking, budget and finance committees. He has voiced optimism that the commission will be able to agree on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. He has talked about the need to overhaul the tax code and criticized the way Congress uses “emergency spending.”
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN SPRATT
The Democrat is chairman of the House Budget Committee and participated in Balanced Budget Act negotiations in 1997. Spratt has emphasized the need to find common ground and is looking at ways to reform the budget process, possibly giving the president more veto power over individual spending items.
REPRESENTATIVE XAVIER BECERRA
A liberal, Becerra serves as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and sits on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. He says it will be necessary to make tough choices but, in recommending ways to cut the deficit, Becerra says the commission needs to put a face on the numbers and consider how budget cuts will affect people’s lives.
REPRESENTATIVE JAN SCHAKOWSKY
The Democrat is said to be a leading voice in favor of protecting health and retirement security for seniors. At the first commission meeting, Schakowsky said balancing budgets and reducing debt are not ends in and of themselves.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN
The top Republican on the House Budget Committee, Ryan may be the only member of the commission who has his own plan for reducing the deficit without raising taxes. He sees this being possible by relying on the private sector and government vouchers for delivery of health and Medicare benefits and through cuts in Social Security.
REPRESENTATIVE JEB HENSARLING
As a member of the House budget and financial services committees, Hensarling has pushed for a moratorium on earmarks. He has proposed capping federal spending at 20 percent of the size of the U.S. economy every year and supports private investment accounts for Social Security.
REPRESENTATIVE DAVE CAMP
Camp, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, wants to balance the budget without raising taxes. He says he agrees with Conrad’s comments that the tax code is outdated and too riddled with deductions, credits and other tax preferences.
Compiled by Donna Smith; Editing by John O’Callaghan
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