POLITICS

Budget deficit, debt supercommittee members named

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WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker John Boehner has named GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas to co-chair a powerful new committee that will try to come up with a bipartisan plan this fall to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion.

Boehner also named Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan, to the committee.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has named Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio to the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday he's naming Sen. Patty Murray to co-chair a powerful "super committee" charged with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit cuts this fall.

Murray will be joined by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., on the panel, which was established last week by hard-fought legislation to increase the national debt.

Murray, who is chairwoman of the committee to elect Democratic senators, is a longtime protector of Democratic priorities such as Medicare, Social Security and veterans' benefits, as are Kerry and Baucus.

Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement that Murray has "a depth of knowledge on budget issues and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines."

In naming the trio, Reid opted against picking Democrats like Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota or Dick Durbin of Illinois, who backed curbs on Medicare spending and Social Security benefits as members of President Barack Obama's deficit commission.

Baucus also served on the commission but voted against the controversial recommendations put forward by its co-chairs, citing cuts to farm subsidies and a proposed increase in the gasoline tax.

"More significant to me is who (Reid) didn't pick," said Keith Hennessey, a longtime former Senate GOP aide, citing Reid's snub of Conrad, who's also part of a bipartisan Senate "Gang of Six" on the budget. "He didn't pick someone who might have been bipartisan." Hennessey is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Baucus is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, Social Security and Medicare.

Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004.

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