The joint select committee charged with reducing the deficit held its first meeting today as it begins a three-month pursuit to find $1.5 trillion in deficit savings through spending cuts or tax changes. The 12-member "super committee" made opening remarks with members on both sides of the aisle which focused on jobs, the tax code and entitlement programs.
Senate Democrats are represented by Sens. Murray (WA), Baucus (MT), and Kerry (MA) to the table. The Senate GOP consists of Sens. Kyl (AZ), Toomey (PA), and Portman (OH). House Republicans on the committee are Reps. Hensarling (TX), Camp (MI), and Upton (MI). Sen. Murray and Rep. Hensarling will co-chair the joint committee.
The debt ceiling plan was signed by the President just over a month ago. The committee has until November 23 to report a bill with its recommendations, which must then be passed by the House and Senate under special rules by December 23.
If the joint committee or Congress fail to act by December 23, the bill calls for automatic across-the-board cuts, split 50-50 between defense and non-defense spending, including Medicare. Social Security and Medicaid would be excluded from the automatic cuts.
The plan also calls for a Congressional vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. That vote would require a 2/3 majority in both Houses.
Here's a look at key dates for the committee.
Sept. 13: First hearing of joint committee, 10:30am ET.
Oct. 14: Deadline for standing committees to forward their recommendations to joint committee.
Nov. 23: Deadline for joint committee to vote on legislative proposals, with a 10-year deficit reduction goal of $1.5 trillion.
Dec. 2: Deadline for joint committee to formally report proposals.
Dec. 23: Deadline for House and Senate to vote on proposals, without amendment.
Jan. 15: Deadline for enactment of at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, or across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered.
Jan. 2, 2013: If triggered, across-the-board cuts will take effect.