The contenders, dark horses and long shots to land on debt ‘supercommittee’

Speculation about who will be selected to serve on the debt “supercommittee” is rampant on Capitol Hill, K Street and Wall Street.

The four congressional leaders of the House and Senate have until Aug. 16 to make their appointments. While it is unclear which members will be tapped, Capitol Hill leaders are widely expected to pick party loyalists.

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Both the left and right are wary of any possible defectors who would give the opposing party an edge in the talks, which will be aimed at reducing the debt by $1.5 trillion.

Each of the four House and Senate leaders will pick three members to serve on the joint committee. The leaders are allowed to appoint themselves to the supercommittee, though that is unlikely to happen.

The supercommittee’s recommendations must be reported out by Nov. 23 and voted up or down in the House and Senate by Dec. 23.

The following is a rundown of the contenders, dark horses and long shots to be appointed to the panel, categorized alphabetically.


The major contenders to be selected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):

• Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) – Finance Committee chairman has jurisdiction over entitlement programs and he served on the Simpson-Bowles commission. The Huffington Post, however, reported on Monday that Baucus is unlikely to be tapped.

• Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) – Reid deputy is a Gang of Six member who also served on Simpson-Bowles.

• Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) – Appropriations Committee chairman participated in the Biden talks.

• Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) – Schumer is a Reid ally who would not let Democrats get rolled in the negotiations.


The major contenders to be selected by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

• Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) – Member of leadership team who throws sharp elbows on 2010 healthcare law.

• Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) – Ranking member of Finance Committee told The Hill, “I can live with [being appointed] or live without it.” Some point out that Hatch, who could face a primary challenge next year, will not be keen on finding common ground with Democrats.

• Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) – McConnell’s deputy participated in the Biden talks and is not seeking reelection.

• Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – Portman, a budget director in George W. Bush’s administration, has been mentioned a lot in recent days. The former House Ways and Means Committee member is widely respected on both sides of the aisle.


The major contenders to be selected by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

• Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) – Ways and Means Committee chairman has jurisdiction over entitlement programs and served on Simpson-Bowles.


• Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) – Member of House GOP leadership team who served on Simpson-Bowles.

• Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) – Armed Services Committee chairman wary of more defense cuts, which would trigger if supercommittee deadlocks.

• Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) – Budget Committee chairman has said he will serve on panel if asked. Served on Simpson-Bowles. Very likely to be picked.

• A House Republican freshman who voted for the debt-ceiling bill – Huge freshman class could get seat at the table. Names mentioned include Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.).


The major contenders to be selected by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

• Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) – Member of Democratic leadership team who served on Simpson-Bowles commission.

• Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) – The third-ranking House Democrat participated in the negotiations led by Vice President Biden.

• Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) – Schakowsky is close to Pelosi and served on Simpson-Bowles commission.

• Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) – Ranking member of the House Budget Committee.


Dark horses

• Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) – Budget Committee chairman served on Simpson-Bowles commission, but the Gang of Six member probably won’t be tapped.

• Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) – Head of the Democrats’ campaign committee has a decent shot of being appointed.

• Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) – Reed is respected on both sides of the aisle, and unlike others in the Senate, refrains from partisan barbs.

• Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) – Johanns, a supporter of revamping farm subsidies, backs the Gang of Six plan.

• Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – Rising star in the GOP.

• Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – Ranking member of Budget Committee toes the party line.

• Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) – House majority leader has not said whether he wants to serve on the panel. But after the friction between the Speaker and Cantor this summer, some say the chance of a Cantor appointment is less than 50-50.

• Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) – Member of the House GOP leadership team who sits on Budget and Ways and Means committees.

• Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) – The Washington Post pegs the deputy whip a front-runner.

• Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) – Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid.

• Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) – Vocal supporter of the 2010 healthcare reform law.

• Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) – Trusted ally of Pelosi.

• Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) – Ranking member of House Appropriations Committee. Like others in the Democratic Caucus, Dicks has argued for more stimulus funding to create jobs.

• Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) – Schwartz’s candidacy has picked up steam over the last week. But her support for eliminating a controversial payment advisory board that was included in the healthcare law could hurt her chances.

• Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) – Ranking member of Energy and Commerce Committee is a strong supporter of protecting Medicare and Medicaid.


Long shots, other names floated

• Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) – Gang of Six member says he is not interested.

• Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) – Gang of Six member is unlikely to be selected.

• Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) – Has expressed interesting in serving on the committee.

• Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) – Gang of Six member.

• Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) – Favored by conservatives, but a long shot.

• Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) – Selecting Thune or Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) or Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) could trigger leadership politics. All three have their eyes on replacing Kyl as whip in 2013.

• Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) – Highly unlikely; Brown is facing a tough reelection campaign in 2012.

• Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) – Centrist knows how to cut deals.

• Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) – Her stock is on the rise, but she’s unlikely to be appointed.

• Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) – Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

* Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) – Freshman seeking reelection in 2012 wants on the committee, though he has acknowledged his chances are slim.

• Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) – Supporter of a balanced-budget amendment.

• Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) – Would like to be picked, but knows he probably won’t make the cut.

• Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) – Member of the House Armed Services Committee.

• Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) – Freshman member who backed Boehner debt bill amid uproar from the right.

• Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) – Boehner probably won’t pick the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

• Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) – Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

• Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) – Armed Services Committee member.

• Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) – Supported GOP’s “cut, cap and balance” bill.

• Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) – Backed Gang of Six plan.

• Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) – The House minority whip, a centrist, is viewed as an unlikely choice.

• Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) – Ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee.

• Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) – Pelosi confidant who voted against final debt deal.

• Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) – Welch has been a leading voice for the House Democratic Caucus this year.


Alexander Bolton, Bernie Becker, Erik Wasson, Cristina Marcos and Jake Interrante contributed to this report.


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