Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader, named the three final appointees Thursday to the super committee on deficit reduction, adding diversity along with budget expertise to a panel that was all white and includes only one woman.
Pelosi, of California, tapped Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, along with Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Clyburn, who is black, and Van Hollen served as the House Democrats' appointees to an earlier budget deficit group led this year by Vice President Joe Biden. Van Hollen is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Becerra, a party leader and of Latino heritage, is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax policy.
“The Joint Select Committee has a golden opportunity to take its discussions to the higher ground of America's greatness and its values,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We must achieve a 'grand bargain' that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
Pelosi's appointees complete the bipartisan 12-member panel that has until Nov. 23 to recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. Nine other members were chosen this week by Senate Democrats and House and Senate Republicans.
The committee will be co-chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the only woman on the panel, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
Budget hawks have been skeptical the group will be able to break the partisan stalemate that has prevented earlier attempts at broad deficit reduction, as Republicans have been unwilling to raise taxes and Democrats have resisted cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other entitlements without new revenue.
But the worsening economic outlook for the nation has put pressure on the committee. The decision by Standard & Poor's, one of the main credit rating agencies, to downgrade U.S. debt specifically blamed the political stalemate in Washington as part of its reason for the historic action.
© 2011 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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