No, Conservatives Won't Be Denied Slots on Supercommittee

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 2 2011 10:44 AM

No, Conservatives Won't Be Denied Slots on Supercommittee

I tip my hat to whoever pushed this story. Well done.

Three Republican Senate sources tell TWS that senators who vote against the deal will be ineligible to serve on the so-called “supercommittee” for deficit reduction that the legislation creates... Among those who have already declared their opposition to the deal: libertarian-leaning senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul; Jim DeMint, the aggressive fiscal hawk from South Carolina; conservative reformers Ron Johnson from Wisconsin and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania; the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions; and Florida’s Marco Rubio, already one of the highest-profile conservatives in Congress.

Before I read this it never would have occured to me that Rand Paul should be on the supercommittee. He's immediately established himself as a smart, far-thinking libertarian, but he's also a freshman with no prior experience in elected office or in finance. And the appointments are going to be made by Mitch McConnell, who backed another guy in the primary Rand Paul won. But put it like this -- voting for the bill is a condition for getting on the committee -- and presto, instant outrage!

McConnell's office is pushing back. "The story is inaccurate," says McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. "There is no vote position requirement to serve on the committee. He will have serious discussions with all those who are interested in serving prior to making any appointments."

Suzy Khimm has some early intel on who might make it onto the committee -- the retiring Jon Kyl, the still-resisting-a-presidential-draft Paul Ryan, the Gang-of-Six-member-everyone-forgets Mike Crapo. The name game is fun, but distracting. The committee only gets a plan to Congress if it comes up with something seven of 12 members support. If it's a split, no plan -- the automatic "triggers" go into effect, and conservatives have to settle for Medicare providers cuts, security spending cuts, etc and etc. Is it in the Tea Party's interest to prevent a Republican moderate from filling one of these slots and providing the seventh vote for a Bowles-Simpson-like plan that raises some revenue? Arguably, yes. Hence the leak.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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