House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) picked three members of her leadership circle as House Democrats’ representatives to the powerful new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction — Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), James Clyburn (S.C.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.).
Van Hollen, ranking member of the Budget Committee, has become the face of House Democrats on budget issues in recent months. He and Clyburn served on the debt reduction talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden earlier this year, and Van Hollen has had previous stints running the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Van Hollen is a wonky politician with big ambitions and has been aggressively pushing the Democratic agenda of taxing the rich and shrinking deductions for corporations.
Clyburn, the No. 3 member of the House Democratic leadership team as Assistant Minority Leader, will be the only African-American on the panel. He’s close to the Obama administration and the former Whip communicates well across the diverse Democratic Caucus.
Becerra, the No. 5 member of House Democratic leadership as Caucus vice chairman, was one of several names that had been bandied about as possible Pelosi picks, including Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.). Pelosi’s picks mean that only one woman, Co-Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), will sit on the joint committee.
Becerra, who also sits on Ways and Means, is the only member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on the committee.
Pelosi, in her statement announcing the picks, said the committee should focus not just on the deficit but on fostering growth and jobs, and she said she backs a “grand bargain” between the parties.
“We must achieve a ‘grand bargain’ that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” she said. Pelosi reiterated that the panel’s proceedings should be open to the public.
And she said Congress should not wait for the panel to complete its work to take action on jobs.
“Congress should send to the President the long delayed highway and [Federal Aviation Administration] bills, which generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs; and Congress should approve a national Infrastructure Bank to create jobs and improve our competitiveness,” she said.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced their committee picks earlier this week.