President Barack Obama’s Republican foes in the US Congress on Wednesday named tax foes and a “Tea Party” ally to a new “supercommittee” where the next round of bitter US debt battles will play out.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s choices — like those of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, announced a day earlier — blended expertise with a partisan edge.
McConnell appointed Republican Senators Jon Kyl, Pat Toomey, and Rob Portman to the panel, while Boehner named Republican Representatives Dave Camp and Fred Upton to the panel, with Jeb Hensarling as a co-chairman.
The committee, created by the debt-limit bill Obama recently signed after a bitter political battle in polarized Washington, faces the daunting task of finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over ten years.
Kyl, who is not seeking reelection in November 2012, is the number-two Senate Republican and represented McConnell at failed debt-reduction talks with Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year.
Portman is in his first term as senator but has decades of experience in public service, including stints as then-president George W. Bush’s US Trade Representative and White House budget chief.
Toomey, a former Wall Street executive close to the archconservative “Tea Party” movement, serves on the Senate Budget, Banking, and Commerce Committees and argued during the just-finished battle over the US debt-limit that failure to approve an increase would not lead to a default.
Camp chairs the House Ways and Means Committee that has oversight over taxes and trade, Upton leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Hensarling is a member of the House Republican leadership.
All six have signed a pledge, crafted by the fiercely anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform pressure group, to vote against and oppose tax increases.