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Harry Reid has chosen the first three members of the bipartisan deficit commission responsible for shaving trillions from the deficit

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will appoint Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Max Baucus of Montana, and John Kerry of Massachusetts to the new super committee tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction by November 23, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with Reid's decision, which is expected to be made public as early as Wednesday.

Additionally, Murray is expected to co-chair the committee, officially named the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, along with a still unnamed House Republican. A spokesman for Reid did not respond to a request for comment.

Reid's decision to tap Murray will likely be met with scrutiny, as she is also chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2012 election cycle. But she is also a member of leadership, a senior member of the Budget Committee, and a woman on what is likely to be a male-dominated committee.

Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over many areas, including entitlement programs, that the committee is expected to examine. Kerry, meanwhile, was selected for his stature and Senate tenure.

The remaining nine lawmakers have yet to be announced. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), each must name three members to the panel by August 16.

The panel will need at least seven of the 12 lawmakers to vote on a final proposal by Thanksgiving in order to fast-track it through both chambers and send it to President Obama by December 23. If the panel deadlocks along partisan lines, it would trigger across-the-board cuts for both defense and non-defense spending.

Image credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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Susan Davis is a correspondent (Congress) for National Journal.

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