Created when Congress extended the debt ceiling, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- commonly referred to as the “Super Committee” -- is comprised of 12 Members of Congress.

The Super Committee’s mandate is to produce legislation by November 23 that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores as reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion. According to the Committee’s directive, the deficit reduction target can be attained through any combination of reductions in discretionary, mandatory and entitlement spending or through changes to the tax code.

Earlier this week, the Committee Chairs, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), announced the hiring of Mark Prater as the panel’s staff director. Prater is a widely respected veteran aide on Capitol Hill, who currently works as the deputy staff director and chief tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee Republicans. As the Committee begins its work, below are dates it must adhere to from the legislation:

  • September 16: The Super Committee must hold (or have held) its first meeting.
  • Mid-September: In order to withhold a $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling, Congress would need to pass a resolution of disapproval. Even if such a resolution were to pass both the House and the Senate, it would be vetoed by the President and would require a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to override his veto, a very unlikely scenario.
  • October 1 through December 31: During this period, both the House and the Senate must vote on (but not necessarily adopt) a resolution that would send to the States a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Adoption, which requires a two-thirds vote in each legislative body, is considered unlikely.
  • October 14: The Super Committee must “consider” any recommendations from House and Senate committees with respect to changes in law necessary for debt reduction. It is important to note that while the Committee must consider these suggestions, it is not required to include them in any final proposal.
  • November 23: By this date, the Super Committee is required to vote on a report that contains recommendations scored by CBO as reducing the debt over the next 10 years. It will take a simple majority vote of the Members of the Committee to advance legislation to the House and Senate.
  • December 23: By this date the House and Senate must have voted on the Super Committee’s proposed legislation without amendment.
  • Should the above deadlines not be met, any legislation the committee produces will lose the privileges of expedited consideration, and a similar sequestration mechanism will be triggered should the committee not produce at least $1.2 trillion savings. Such automatic spending cuts would go into effect in early 2013.