Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's, R-Ky., picked Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio to the special joint committee, or "super committee," today that will be charged with finding $1.2 trillion in budget cuts and or revenue raisers.
Jon Kyl, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and member of the Senate Finance Committee, has deep ties to the financial industry. Kyl made headlines last spring when he announced he wouldn't run for reelection, and this final task of slashing the government's budget deficit by at least $1 trillion won't be an easy one. Earlier this year, Kyl was also on Vice President Joe Biden's taskforce during the debt talks.
In the nearly two decades since he won a Senate seat in 1994, Kyl's received $4.3 million in campagin contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate industry. Not far behind is the $1.5 million he's accepted from lawyers and lobbyists.
Former staffers of Kyl's are working on lobbying for a wide range of interests, including health care, commercial banks and international retail giant Wal-Mart. Some of those groups represent companies that are top donors to Kyl, such as Citigroup Inc, which was his second-biggest contributor last cycle.
Freshman senator Pat Toomey, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, is a former investment banker and former CEO of the fiscally-conservative Club for Growth, which has established a "super PAC" to make independent expenditures in elections.
Toomey said Congress' decision on the federal debt fell short. He's been an advocate of the idea to prioritize debt payments so the Treasury could stay above water without raising the debt ceiling. He promised in a tweet that he wouldn't pledge his support for the Budget Control Act–and he didn't.
He's received $2.2 million from the finance, insurance and real estate industries along with nearly $584,000 from lobbyists and lawyers.
Toomey's top donors include hedge fund groups Elliott Management ($115,438) and SAC Capital Advisors ($46,100), along with several other financial, banking and investment companies.
Rob Portman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received $4 million in financial services and real estate contributions and another $1.8 million from lobbyists and lawyers. He also held positions at top lobbying houses Patton Boggs, Graydon, Head & Ritchey and Sanders, Squire and Dempsey – which is also a top Kyl donor.
His former chief of staff, Robert Lehman, now works with Sanders, Squire & Dempsey. During his time in Congress, that firm and Graydon, Head & Richey and Sanders, donated nearly $200,000 to the Ohio Republican.
Rob Portman's ties to industry interests runs deep with his prior stints at top federal agencies and with big name lobbying firms.
He serves on the budget, armed services, energy and natural resources, and homeland security committees, all of which are are slated for some major cuts. He has received $4 million in contributions from the financial services and real estate sector and another $1.8 million has come from lobbyists and lawyers. Another prominent contributor to Portman in recent years has been the manufacturing industry, which contributed $575,000 to his campaign in 2010.
Prior to his time in the Senate, Portman held a House seat until 2005, when he left to work on the Bush cabinet. First, he served at the U.S. Trade Representative from 2005 to 2006 and then as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 2006 to 2007. In 2008 Portman took a hiatus from public service at which time he formed two PACS and had his name tossed around as a possible running mate for John McCain. Before entering politics, Portman worked at several prominent D.C. law firms including Patton Boggs, Graydon, Head & Ritchey and Sanders, Squire & Dempsey.
Portman's campaign committee, along withhis two PACs, America's majority Trust and Ohio's Future PAC, have raised more than $22 million. His former employers, Graydon, Head & Ritchey and Sanders, Squire & Dempsey were two of Portman's top 20 contributors. Also, Portman's former chief of staff, Robert Lehman, now is with Sanders, Squite & Dempsey. During his time in Congress, the two firms donated nearly $200,000 to the Ohio Republican.
Portman voted in favor of the legislation that created the “super congress” of which he could potentially be a member, given his former experience on budget committees and OMB Director. In his official statement he touted the bill to raise the debt ceiling as a a "step in the right direction because it begins to address Washington's addiction to higher spending and dangerous levels of debt.” In terms of budget cuts, Portman suggested in a Wall Street Journal article that the “dollar-for-dollar” rule be made permanent, matching debt ceiling increase with spending cuts.