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McConnell, Boehner Make Deficit Committee Appointments

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BOEHNER MCCONNELL
AP

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders of the House and Senate announced their picks Wednesday for the "super Congress" deficit committee slated with finding about $1.5 trillion in savings. Their announcement comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed three Democrats to the 12-member commission.

On the Senate side, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will serve on the commission, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced. Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) will represent House Republicans, said Speaker John Boehner.

All six Republicans have signed a pledge to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform that they will not vote to raise taxes.

They will join Democratic Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), whom Reid appointed to the commission on Tuesday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not yet made her appointments.

One surprise in the Republican announcement was the exclusion of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who put out the House-passed budget last spring. But Ryan said in a statement Wednesday that he asked Boehner not to consider him for the committee, so that he could keep his full attention on the budget process.

"The Speaker has chosen three excellent Republican members to serve on this Joint Committee in Chairmen Hensarling, Upton and Camp," Ryan said. "As Budget Committee chairman, my plan has long been to work on this critical issue throughout the fall."

Boehner's picks came from the leadership of his party. Camp is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committees, while Upton leads the committee on Energy and Commerce. Hensarling is chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Hensarling called the nation's debt "a legitimate threat to our nation's future" and said it is time for Washington to tighten its belt.

"This commission will not be able to solve the crisis in a matter of months, but we can work together to tackle these challenges in order to bring back jobs, hope and opportunity for the America people," he said in a statement.

So far, only two freshmen have been chosen for the commission. Toomey, who was elected to the Senate last fall, has taken a hard-line stance on budget issues, arguing the debt should be prioritized over all else until the country can adopt a budget that gets the deficit under control. Portman serves on the Senate Budget Committee.

Kyl, the Republican Whip, is part of the Senate minority leadership.

UPDATE: 2:15 p.m. -- Grover Norquist, president of the anti-tax-increase Americans for Tax Reform, tweeted in response to the "super Congress" news on Wednesday afternoon.

"Boehner and McConnell appoint friends of taxpayers to the 'Debt Super Committee' your wallet is safe," he wrote.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Toomey was the sole freshman legislator on the commission. Portman is also a freshman.

Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.

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