House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, just announced his picks to the special joint committee tasked to find at least $1.2 trillion to trim from the federal budget. They are: Reps. Jeb Hensarling from Texas and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both from Michigan.
Jeb Hensarling, the hardline conservative, known around the Hill as the budget nanny, is a member of the House Republican leadership team, serving as chairman of the House Republican Conference. He's vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee, where he's vocal about trimming excessive spending and creating a balanced budget, and served on the Simpson-Bowles commission last year. Early in his Congressional career Hensarling founded the “Washington Waste Watchers,” a group aimed at cutting government waste and fraudulent spending.
With a heavy hand in House fiscal talks, some of Hensarling's top donors are in the financial industry, from tax firms and insurance companies to some of the country's biggest banks. Hensarling has received $3.3 million from the finance, insurance and real estate industry throughout his career. Last election cycle he was the top House recipient of donations from the finance and credit companies industry during the last election cycle with more than $100,000 and ranked fifth for commercial banks, which gave him nearly $140,000.
Among his top lifetime donors are audit and tax firm KPMG LLP ($62,250), Bank of America ($51,500), the American Bankers Association ($50,500) and Switzerland's UBS ($46,300). Lawyers and lobbyists have given Hensarling more than half a million dollars spanning his career. Some of those top recent donors represent the mortgage and banking industries, from securities and investments giant Charlles Schwab & Co to finance/credit company Visa Inc.
The day before the House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling last week Hensarling tweeted that the ceiling is a “speed bump on the road to national bankruptcy." The next day he released a statement that lauded the cuts made by the Budget Control Act of 2011, calling them a “very slight directional change in the right direction.”
Hensarling last week postponed a $1000+-a-plate fundraiser reception here in Washington that planned to host House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), another speculated pick for the “super committee,” as a special guest.
Rep. Frank Upton, first elected to Congress in 1986, ascended to the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee after last year’s GOP takeover of the chamber.
His campaign coffers show what a difference the chairmanship makes: as of mid year, he has reported raising $1.1 million for his campaign committee and leadership PAC. That means he’s raised nearly half of what he raised in the entire two-year 2010 election cycle in just six months, putting him on a path to double his 2010 take.
Over the course of his career in Congress, his biggest donors have been health care professionals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with $773,000, who have a huge stake in Medicare and Medicaid reforms. Other top giving industries include electric utilities, pharmaceuticals and health care products, and the TV/movies/and music interests. Top donors include AT&T, CMS Energy, Ford Motor Company, and Whirlpool. (His grandfather was a cofounder.)
His lobbyist and lawyer donors, who have given him $535,000 over the years, include several representatives from the Podesta Group, according to transparencydata.com. Podesta Group clients include Lockheed Martin, Google Inc., and Wal-Mart. Other donors include Daniel Mattoon, president of Mattoon and Associates, whose clients range from AT&T to Altria (parent group of tobacco maker Phillip Morris), and Northrop Grumman.
In 2010, Upton was the sponsor or co-sponsor for more than $7.9 million worth of earmarks for his home state of Michigan, many of them along with Democratic members of his delegation. Projects ranged from $2 million to Eaton Corp for an advanced digital hydraulic drive system to $346,000 for a research project to study bacteria that destroy fruit.
Upton was a supporter of the debt deal legislation recently passed by Congress, saying in a statement, “There’s no question that we need to avoid default.”In the same statement, he also remarked that “Both the House and Senate have agreed it would be a mistake to raise taxes.”
Rep. Dave Camp is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a key committee regulating tax, trade, Social Security and Medicare issues. Over the course of his his career in the House, his major donors have been healthcare interests, the insurance industry, and pharmaceutical companies. His top contributors include Dow Chemical and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
In a press statement in May, Camp toed his party’s line in calling for the administration to “demonstrate the leadership America expects from Washington and work with the Congress to enact significant reductions in government spending — including entitlement programs like Medicare.” He has also repeatedly gone on the record opposing a large tax increase.
In the past, lobbyists for companies such as AT&T and groups such as the Assisted Living Federation PAC have hosted fundraising events for Camp. Former Senator Trent Lott, who’s now a lobbyist for the likes of AT&T, General Electric and Goldman Sachs, was also scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Camp on Aug. 4, which has now been canceled, according to the group managing the event.