Reid taps Baucus, Kerry and Murray for debt-reduction ‘supercommittee’

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will serve on the supercommittee tasked with assembling a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package by Thanksgiving.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his selections to the 12-member panel late Tuesday and touted the trio's history of bipartisanship.

“I have great faith in Senator Murray as the co-chair of the committee. Her years of experience on the Senate Budget and Appropriations committees have given her a depth of knowledge on budget issues, and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines," Reid said in a statement. "Senators Baucus and Kerry are two of the Senate’s most respected and experienced legislators. Their legislative accomplishments are matched only by their records of forging strong bonds with their Republican colleagues."

Baucus, Kerry and Murray will serve with three Senate Republicans to be named by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) will each pick three of the panel’s other members.

Labor unions and liberal groups lobbied Reid vigorously not to appoint members of the Senate’s Gang of Six to the panel because they unveiled a framework last month calling for significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Those liberal groups were leery of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), members of the Gang of Six, because they also voted for a deficit-reduction proposal from the Simpson-Bowles commission. That plan would have raised the Social Security retirement age from 67 to 69 years old.

A senior Senate Republican aide said it was unbelievable that Reid would appoint Murray, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to the supercommittee. The GOP aide said the head of a partisan political committee should not sit on the special debt-reduction panel that will work on reaching a bipartisan compromise by Thanksgiving.

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