Politics

Senate Democrats Picked for Select Budget, Pension Committees

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer picked his choices for the bipartisan committees looking for solutions to budget and pension issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday named eight senators to the select committees tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process as well as providing recommendations for restoring the solvency of multiemployer pension plans.

The New York Democrat selected Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono, both of Hawaii, for the budget panel.

The Senate members will join House Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Reps. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., Jodey C. Arrington, R-Texas, House Appropriations ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., House Budget ranking member John Yarmuth, D-Ky., Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash. All were appointed on Friday.

The massive spending package that established the select committee set last Friday as the deadline by which their party leaders were supposed to name members, but the bill did not set a penalty for delayed announcement.

The 16 lawmakers are supposed to meet for the first time before Sunday, March 11 and produce a bill that would overhaul the annual budget and appropriations process before Nov. 30. But, there is no penalty for missing those deadlines either.

The lawmakers have a wealth of options for how to change the process, including suggestions in a report released on Monday by a bipartisan coalition of budget and policy experts. That paper outlines five key areas for change, including expanding the role and powers of the Budget committees to set two-year tax and spending plans.

Schumer also appointed his four members to the select committee on pension plans, which is tasked with improving “the solvency of multiemployer pensions and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.” The PBGC says its program to pay promised benefits in the event multiemployer plans, which cover nearly 11 million mostly unionized workers, become insolvent is $65 billion in the hole, and will no longer be able to guarantee promised benefits by the end of fiscal 2025.

Senate Democrats who will serve on the pensions panel include Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Tina Smith of Minnesota. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not yet named his eight picks to sit on the budget and pensions select committees.

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