The 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—better known as the “Super Committee”—was created under the Budget Control Act that was signed into law this summer. The Super Committee is composed of six Republicans and six Democrats (three members of each party from the House and three members of each party from the Senate). The members were selected in August. Their job is to figure out how to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.
The members have been holding closed meetings (meetings that are not open to the public or the media) to discuss various deficit reduction options. Some of these options could include changes to the tax system, defense spending, discretionary spending, and entitlement programs. In other words, just about everything may be under consideration.
While the Super Committee is under increasing pressure to open its doors to the public, it is unclear if they will do so in the six weeks left before the recommendations are due. Meanwhile, other members of Congress, the media, and the public are watching closely for hints about what the committee may recommend.
Formal recommendations, in the form of a legislative proposal, must be sent to the House and Senate by November 23, 2011. Congress then has until December 23 to approve the legislation without any modifications. If the Super Committee does not agree on recommendations, or Congress doesn’t approve its recommendations, automatic spending cuts will go into effect beginning in 2013.