Between September 7 and November 23, the Supercommittee will have its window of opportunity to make targeted cuts from Federal programs. If a proposal is developed and then approved by the Supercommittee, the committee’s report and legislative language is required to be issued by December 2, and then be presented to the House and Senate on a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis. Congress will need to vote on the Supercommittee's proposal by December 23.
If December 23 passes without Congressional approval of the Supercommittee’s proposal, then “sequestration” forces automatic spending reductions of $1.2 trillion, including $600 billion in defense cuts, and $600 billion in cuts from all other programs, through 9 percent across-the-board spending reductions (except Medicare, which would be cut by only 2 percent).
If the Supercommittee fails to reach agreement or produces less than $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, then the President is authorized to increase the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion. However, if Congress passes a Supercommittee plan to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion (or more), then the President may increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion.
Although provisions to raise the debt limit and create the Supercommittee drew most of the attention to the legislation, the measure also importantly established federal spending limits for the next two fiscal years (2012 and 2013). And while members of Congress will likely still disagree over how much spending is funneled toward which Federal agencies and defense, Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike have noted that the bipartisan compromise on 2012 and 2103 spending contained in the legislation makes it unlikely that an appropriation's impasse will bring the Congress to the brink of closing the government before Federal spending authority runs out on September 30 (the end of the current fiscal year).
The 12 Super Committee members, with links to their official web pages) include:
- Representatives Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Dave Camp (R-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) (appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH))
- Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA))
- Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kerry (D-MA), and Patty Murray (D-WA) (appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV))
- Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Rob Portman (R-OH) (appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY))