POLITICS
09/26/2011 05:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Jon Kyl And The Super Committee: The Real Reason He Didn't Quit

WASHINGTON -- Several weeks ago, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), one of 12 members of the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, threatened to leave the committee over the possibility of massive cuts to defense spending.

In an interview with the Arizona Republic last week, the second ranking Republican in the Senate insisted that he wasn't actually threatening to take his ball and go home. He was just "making an offhand remark that [defense cuts are] not what I'm on the committee for."

Maybe so. But even if Kyl did sincerely contemplate leaving the super committee behind, it's unlikely that he would have done so. That's because his departure would have created a major headache for his fellow Republicans.

According to the committee's charter, if Kyl had left the committee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would have 14 days to name a new person to fill the vacancy. After that, Kyl's spot would have gone unfilled and Democrats would have had a built in, one-vote majority. The quorum for the committee would have stayed at seven members, but the group's final plan would have needed only six votes for passage. A congressional aide familiar with the committee's charter confirmed these rules.

In other words, had Kyl quit, McConnell would have had to persuade a fellow member to take his place or all the other Republicans would have had to quit along with him to deny Democrats a quorum.

But all that speculation is now moot. The senator has stayed on the committee and has largely kept his complaints silent since he first aired them.

The actual language of the committee's charter exposes how unlikely it will be for Kyl, or any other lawmaker, to quit in protest.

The relevant language of the charter is below:

(4) Membership.--

(A) In general.--The joint committee shall be composed of 12 members appointed pursuant to subparagraph (B).

(B) Appointment.--Members of the joint committee shall be appointed as follows:

(i) The majority leader of the Senate shall appoint three members from among Members of the Senate.

(ii) The minority leader of the Senate shall appoint three members from among Members of the Senate.

(iii) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint three members from among Members of the House of Representatives.

(iv) The minority leader of the House of Representatives shall appoint three members from among Members of the House of Representatives.

(C) Co-chairs.--

(i) In general.--There shall be two Co-Chairs of the joint committee. The majority leader of the Senate shall appoint one Co-Chair from among the members of the joint committee. The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint the second Co-Chair from among the members of the joint committee. The Co-Chairs shall be appointed not later than 14 calendar days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(ii) Staff director.--The Co-Chairs, acting jointly, shall hire the staff director of the joint committee.

(D) Date.--Members of the joint committee shall be appointed not later than 14 calendar days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(E) Period of appointment.--Members shall be appointed for the life of the joint committee. Any vacancy in the joint committee shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled not later than 14 calendar days after the date on which the vacancy occurs, in the same manner as the original designation was made. If a member of the joint committee ceases to be a Member of the House of Representatives or the Senate, as the case may be, the member is no longer a member of the joint committee and a vacancy shall exist.

Earlier on HuffPost:

This post has been updated from an earlier version