Pelosi picks Clyburn, Van Hollen, Becerra for supercommittee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she had selected Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) for the supercommittee on Thursday. 

All three are either current or former members of Pelosi's leadership team who are seen as close to the former Speaker. 

In a statement Pelosi said it was important for the committee to produce a "grand bargain" on deficit reduction. 

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"We must achieve a ‘grand bargain’ that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security," Pelosi said. "Our entire Caucus will work closely with these three appointees toward this goal, which is the goal of the American people." 

The picks were somewhat predictable. Van Hollen, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee and former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has emerged this year as a high-profile spokesman and steady messenger for the party's policy priorities.

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, has been on the front lines of the party's push for job-creating legislation, particularly in low-income communities.

And Becerra, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has been the party's loudest advocate for shoring up the Social Security program without eroding any benefits.

Both Van Hollen and Clyburn were participants in the failed bipartisan debt-ceiling discussions led earlier in the year by Vice President Biden.

The committee is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by Nov. 23. But failure to reach an agreement on those cuts, or if Congress rejects their recommendations, would trigger broad cuts across domestic and defense spending.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made their picks for the committee earlier in the week.


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Reid chose Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic campaign committee. Murray is the only woman among 12 panelists.

McConnell picked Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and freshman Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), while Boehner picked Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dave Camp (D-Mich.).

The selections include four lawmakers who voted against the recommendations of Obama's debt commission. Including Van Hollen and Clyburn, four of the members were involved in the Biden debt talks. Some of that group's recommendations were included in the deal lawmakers reached with the White House earlier this month to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

In the days leading up to the announcement, there was speculation that Pelosi might tap another Latino member of the Democrats' leadership team, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), for the panel. 

Cuellar, a Blue Dog Democrat, has emerged this year as a visible spokesman for jobs and deficit reduction, even sponsoring a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

By choosing Becerra instead, Pelosi has sent a signal that she wanted more liberal voices at the negotiating table.

Becerra broke with most other Democratic leaders to vote against the debt-ceiling package last week, saying the "bill "does not speak to the values of America."

"It is not balanced nor does it ask for shared sacrifice," he said explaining his opposition.

Some liberal groups are already warning that the members of the supercommittee are less important than what they do.

“Regardless of the committee’s makeup, developing recommendations that will both preserve and create jobs should be at the top of its priority list," Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said Thursday in a statement. "Nothing is more important than getting America back to work if we want to get our economy back on its feet."

In her own statement, Pelosi also reiterated her call for the committee's work to be transparent and for meetings to be held in the open. 

"Because the work of this committee will affect all Americans, I called last week for its deliberations to be transparent; the committee should conduct its proceedings in the open," Pelosi said.

— This story was updated at 1:27 p.m.

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