The Congress “super committee” charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion to cut from the federal budget held its first meeting Thursday.
The session was largely organizational, allowing Members to make opening statements about the process and approve rules, which they did by a voice vote.
Those rules include requirements that hearings be announced seven days in advance; that meeting agendas be provided to committee members 48 hours prior to a session; that proposal text be available 24 hours prior to consideration; and that public meetings be available for listening and viewing.
Though Members on the committee have promised an open and transparent process, the super committee will be able to hold private meetings – unsurprising considering the subject matter and tight deadlines.
The committee has not just an aggressive mandate, but also an aggressive schedule that will probably necessitate it drawing heavily on past looks at deficit reduction and standing committee recommendations.
It is not clear yet how most standing committees will handle the request for cuts to be made within their jurisdiction. Within agriculture, there are ongoing discussions about the relative merits of super committee cuts versus the across-the-board cuts that will be made if no consensus can be reached. There also continues to be discussion about whether the best strategy is to recommend further cuts or not.
It is also unclear how the super committee’s operations will be affected by increasing calls to implement new programs to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
The panel’s first hearing is set for next Tuesday, Sept. 13. That meeting is expected to be informational, reviewing how the country arrived at its current state of indebtedness.
Other key deadlines for the process include:
- Oct. 14 – deadline for standing policy committees to send recommendations to the super committee.
- Nov. 23 – deadline for super committee vote on policy proposals.
- Dec. 2 – deadline for super committee report.
- Dec. 23 – deadline for House and Senate to vote on super committee report.
- Jan. 15 – deadline for cuts to be enacted or across-the-board sequestration measures will be put in place.
Source: National Wheat Growers Association