Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) came to Washington in January ready to have a vigorous public debate over America’s debt crisis. He’s less optimistic about the outcome today — a result of the super-secret Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
“I thought it was a very, very bad idea to create a non-transparent, backdoor committee to put together something that is the responsibility of 535 members of Congress,” Huelskamp said yesterday at Heritage. “I expect nothing good to come out of it.”
Huelskamp voted against the final debt-limit bill that created the so-called Super Committee. With its report due in less than a month, Huelskamp said he knows little about what’s being discussed — quite contrary to the nearly 200 companies and special interests that are lobbying the 12-member panel.
“It seems to be that quite a few K Street lobbyists know fairly a lot about what’s going on in that room, which is what we feared,” Huelskamp said Tuesday at The Bloggers Briefing at Heritage.
When he did inquire, one member of the Super Committee told Huelskamp: “I can’t tell you what they’re telling me. I can’t even tell you their response to what I told them.”
Since its creation in August, nearly all of the committee’s meetings have been closed to the press and public. It has held two public hearings. A third, featuring testimony from Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf, takes place today at 10 a.m. It is open to the public.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, Huelskamp predicted lawmakers would likely postpone any difficult decisions until 2013.
“Nothing will come out of that committee and nothing will come out of sequestration that will make a single cut until after the next election,” he said. “Don’t kid yourselves. It’s all on a new Congress and, hopefully, a new president. That’s when the action will take place, which is par for the course in Washington.”
Such a scenario would dampen the enthusiasm of conservative activists, he cautioned.
“There’s a real potential to make our base really mad,” he added.