Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his decision to select Senator Patty Murray to co-chair the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, a debt panel formed last week to designate approximately $1.5 trillion in cuts from the federal budget. Senator Murray, a strong supporter of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and veteran’s benefits and the Chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, will join Reid’s other picks for the committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (D-MA) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT. Senator Reid described Murray’s “depth of knowledge on budget issues” and her “ability to work across party lines” in a statement. Reid did not choose Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, or Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Democratic Whip, both of whom supported cuts to Medicare and Social Security as members of the President’s Deficit Commission.
Senator Murray issued a joint statement with Senators Kerry and Baucus saying, “This is an important moment for our country. Millions of Americans are struggling in this tough economy, working overtime to pay the bills, find a job, and find a way forward for their families, and they want this Committee to force the federal government to make similar sacrifices without the red hot partisanship and brinksmanship of the last months. Every member of Congress knows the importance of getting our fiscal house in order.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) must also name 3 members each to the bipartisan 12-person panel by August 16. Representative Boehner will decide Murray’s co-chair.