The top Democrat on the House Budget Committee and two members of the House Democratic leadership were appointed Thursday to the committee responsible for making recommendations for reducing the budget deficit.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
All three have vowed to protect entitlements during the deliberations of the 12-member House-Senate committee that was created in the legislation just passed by Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
Previously, leaders of the House Republicans and Senate and House Democrats named their appointees to the panel.
The other House members are Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Financial Services Committee Member Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
The Senate members are Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), Assistant Minority Leader Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under the second President Bush, Senate Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) who has been a leading voice of fiscal conservatism.
The panel could achieve savings through budget cuts and tax increases or just cuts. However, the Republicans have been adamant about opposing tax increases.
While the House Democrats have talked about their support for protecting entitlements, two of the Senate Democrats, Baucus and Kerry have expressed a willingness to look at entitlement spending.
The panel must make its recommendations by mid-November. Those recommendations will be subject to an up or down vote in each chamber, with no amendments allowed.
If the committee can’t reach an agreement, there are triggers in place for automatic spending cuts to kick in.