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A top Republican aide on the Senate Finance Committee has been named the staff director for the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who co-chair the panel, announced Tuesday in a joint statement that Mark Prater will serve as staff director. Prater is the deputy staff director and chief tax counsel for the minority Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, under ranking member Orrin Hatch (Utah).
“The know-how and experience Mark brings to this difficult task is exactly what we agreed must be the top priority for the staff serving all the members of this Committee,” Murray and Hensarling said in the statement. “Mark has a well-earned reputation for being a workhorse who members of both parties have relied on. We look forward to working with him and are confident that his approach and expertise will be valuable as we weigh the difficult but necessary choices ahead.”
Prater has spent more than 20 years working for almost every top Republican on the panel. He has degrees in accounting, law and taxation.
"If anyone knows how to create a fair, balanced solution that can make everyone a winner in a difficult situation like this, it's Mark Prater," one Democratic aide said.
Prater has worked on major bipartisan initiatives such as the 2007 Children's Health Insurance Program bill and the 1997 balanced budget deal.
Additionally, Republican members of the committee met Tuesday in Hensarling’s office, a Congressional aide confirmed. Other GOP members include Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.) and Fred Upton (Mich.). Democrats on the committee include Murray, Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and John Kerry (Mass.), and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), James Clyburn (S.C.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.).
Jessica Brady and Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.