Liberal group: Joint committee members should give up leadership, fundraising posts

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Common Cause, a liberal nonprofit organization that acts as a “watchdog against corruption and abuse of power,” today called on lawmakers appointed to a debt-reduction joint committee to relinquish their fundraising and leadership roles in Congress.

The group cites concern that the committee, established by recent debt-ceiling legislation, may not act in the best interest of the country if outside pressures and responsibilities interfere with its members’ ability to make tough decisions about federal spending.

“With the public already disgusted with Washington in the wake of the debt limit debacle, it’s vital that people have confidence that Super Committee Members are thinking about the nation’s best interests, not positioning their party or worrying about how their decisions appear to donors,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar in a statement.

Critics have already raised questions about the appointment of Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who is also chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas is also chair of the House Republican Conference, and Sen. Jon Kyle of Arizona is Minority Whip in the Senate.

Edgar addedd that Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania should make it clear he will act independent of the Tea Party.

Coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, said Edgar, will require a committee of members “who will shed their partisan labels.” (RELATED: Boehner appoints three House leaders to deficit-reduction committee)

“We also need the committee to fully reflect our nation’s diversity,” he added. “We hope that the three appointments to be made by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will strengthen the voices of women and minorities in the Super Committee’s work.”

When asked about the issue in the press briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “Every member of Congress who is elected and sent to Washington to represent his or her constituents has a responsibility to act seriously when asked to deal with such a serious issue, and the President expects the appointed members of this selected committee will do so.”

When pressed specifically about Murray, Carney called it “silly criticism,” and “small-order political issues,” adding that he did not expect her to give up her Democratic fundraising role.