Supercommittee picks Dem to be deputy director

The deficit-reduction supercommmittee has chosen a Democrat to serve as its deputy staff director, balancing the Republican who was chosen to lead the staff.

Panel leaders Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced that Senate Budget Committee analyst Sarah Kuehl will serve in the post under Mark Prater, the current tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Republicans.

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Kuehl's boss, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), was not tapped for the committee and from the outside, he is calling on the group to go for a $4 trillion bargain on the debt. As it stands, the 12-member committee is charged with producing a plan by Thanksgiving that would cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.

“As a long-time Senate Budget Committee staff member, Sarah has developed a reputation among members and staff on both sides of the aisle as a trusted and experienced policy and budget expert," Murray and Hensarling said.

Kuehl's portfolio includes work on health entitlements and Social Security, the announcement notes. The GOP is keen on the supercommittee trimming these entitlements, while Democrats say this can only by raising new revenue.

“For more than a dozen years, Sarah Kuehl has been a pragmatic consensus builder in the Senate, helping draft key pieces of health care and budget legislation that are now law. Sarah is well known throughout Congress for being a problem solver — one who can work across partisan lines and one who is deeply committed to the populations served by the entitlement programs on which she works," supercommittee member Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said.