Having come to Washington as an outsider, Patty Murray earns two high-profile jobs: cutting trillions as a member of the deficit "super committee" and running her party's Senate campaign arm
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to name Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to cochair the super committee tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts gives him a reliable ally on a crucial panel. It is also a sign that the onetime Mom in Tennis Shoes has quietly become one of the more powerful members of the Democratic caucus.
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Republicans have reason to be skeptical; after all, Murray does chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, giving her an indisputably political role as she ostensibly seeks bipartisan compromise among the super committee's 12 members. But Reid, in need of a leadership representative, had few options other than the Washington state Democrat. Reid wasn't a fan of the work of the bipartisan Gang of Six, which included Sen. Dick Durbin, his second-in-command. And appointing Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, would have infuriated Durbin, who sees him as a rival for the top leadership job, once Reid leaves.
Instead, Reid once again turned to Murray, who will share chairman duties with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). The move allows Murray to have a hand in choosing which cuts to make and, importantly, which to avoid; that's a big boon to the Pacific Northwest, which has a long history of exerting influence over Congress's budget process.