September 2011: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys Government Affairs Super Committee’s Super Roll

Under the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, Congress created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, one of the most historically significant Joint Committees ever created by Congress.

The BCA mandated that, in return for raising the statutory debt limit of the United States by $400 million in August 2011 (with a further increase of $500 billion in the future unless Congress disapproves), Congress would cut $917 million in federal spending during 10 years, and the Joint Select Committee would then create legislation cutting a minimum of $1.5 trillion in further cuts. This would be presented to both the House of Representatives and Senate for up or down votes. No amendment would be allowed, no filibusters would be allowed and, if the legislation is not passed by Dec. 23, 2011, automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion would be triggered that would cut across big accounts such as defense spending and Medicare.

The committee was created to consist of 12 Members of Congress, with the Speaker of the House, Minority Leader of the House, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader each given authority to name three members to the committee, ensuring that the committee would be made of six republicans, six democrats, six Senate members, and six House members. This was one of the most-watched events in Congress for some time and, now that the members are named, they are being scrutinized by every organization and citizen with an interest in the federal government. This 12-person committee will have broad authority to reform the federal government in ways no other committee has ever had, and the lobbying efforts to get time in front of the members already has began at a unbelievably fast pace.

The membership of the committee recently was announced by all four leaders and consists of the following members:

Republican House Members

  • Jeb Hensarling – Chairman of the House Republican Conference and Co-Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
  • Dave Camp – Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
  • Fred Upton – Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Democrat House Members

  • Jim Clyburn – Assistant House Democrat Leader
  • Xavier Becerra – Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
  • Chris Van Hollen – Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee

Republican Senate Members

  • John Kyl – Republican Whip
  • Pat Toomey – Senate Budget Committee Member
  • Rob Portman – Former Director of OMB and Former U.S. Trade Representative

Democrat Senate Members

  • Patty Murray – Chairwoman of the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • Max Baucus – Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
  • ??John Kerry – Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

These 12 Members of Congress have the opportunity to impact our government like none other. During the next four months, they not only will shape the size, scope and priorities of our federal government for decades to come, but also they will shape the political landscape for the foreseeable future. Their influence will continue to be felt long after they have left Congress, and we can only hope that they will have the vision and fortitude to act courageously and with a sense of bringing our country back to where it belongs – as the economic leader of the world.

The Keelen Group and the Mason Contractors Association of America look forward to ensuring that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction realizes the important role that mason contractors play in our economy, and they have a voice in the debates as the committee moves forward with its work.

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