Friday, August 12, 2011

Who Bankrolls the Super Congress?

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was appointed to the Super Congress. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was appointed to the Super Congress. (photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Sandy Johnson, iWatch News

11 August 11

he Super Congress has its work cut out: Twelve lawmakers have been tapped to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts in an autumn marathon never before seen in Washington.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas will co-chair the committee, with a backup chorus of lawmakers representing the full political spectrum.

Every member of the Super Congress comes with a history of political patrons and connections with special interests. The Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News has produced an in-depth look at their involvement with the gears that make Washington work, often to the consternation of the public and government watchdogs.

The committee must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings over the coming decade, enough to match increases in the government's ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. It requires a bipartisan majority of at least seven of the committee's 12 members to recommend legislation to be presented to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote by Dec. 23. The select panel has until the day before Thanksgiving to complete its deliberations.

There are powerful incentives for the Super Congress to reach agreement. Perhaps most important, if it fails to produce deficit savings of at least $1.2 trillion, or if the House or Senate votes down its recommendations, severe across-the-board spending cuts would trigger automatically. Additional pressure comes from the Standard & Poor's downgrading of the US government's credit rating.

As with any group of senators and representatives, the members of the Super Congress bring to the table their own set of political activities. These include PAC contributions from special interests; the revolving door of staff in and out of the private sector; the lawmakers' own PACs that dole out donations to favored people running for office. Click on the names below for individual profiles.

Democratic Senators:
Patty Murray of Washington
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Max Baucus of Montana

Republican Senators:
Jon Kyl of Arizona
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Rob Portman of Ohio

Republican House members:
Jeb Hensarling of Texas
Dave Camp of Michigan
Fred Upton of Michigan

Democratic House members:
James Clyburn of South Carolina
Xavier Becerra of California
Chris Van Hollen of Maryland

Our Profiles Include:

Top PAC Contributors: Using data from subscription-only CQ MoneyLine, we examined contributions from political action committees 2009, 2010 and 2011 to lawmaker’s campaign committee and leadership PAC, if any.

Revolving Door: Former staffers who are now registered lobbyists.

Quotes: Statements on priority the Super Congress, or any noteworthy remarks on how to balance budget, whether to balance budget, etc.

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