The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka super Congress or super committee, is Congress’s answer to its own inability to break the hold of partisan gridlock that took America to the brink of default on Aug. 2, prompting the first-ever downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.
The panel, which on Thursday holds an organizational meeting open to the public, has a sweeping mandate to propose cuts to spending and entitlements and recommend tax reform by Nov. 23. Congress must vote the package up or down ”“ no amendments or filibuster ”“ by Dec. 23, or trigger a $1.2 trillion package of automatic spending cuts, equally divided between defense and domestic spending.
“Never has Washington had an all-or-nothing panel that is empowered and backed by a firm timeline like this one is,” says John Ullyot, a public-affairs consultant in Washington and former GOP Senate staffer. “The starter pistol will fire right after Labor Day.”