Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has been appointed to the so-called congressional ‘super committee’ that will decide how best to whip America’s wonky finances back into shape. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will be composed of six Republicans (three each from the House and Senate) along with six Democrats. Representing the GOP are Kyl, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), Sen. Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), plus House members Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Fred Upton and Dave Camp (both from Michigan). The Democrats have so far named only their Senate trio: Max Baucus (Montana), John Kerry (Massachusetts) and Patty Murray (Washington). Murray and Hensarling will serve as co-chairs.
The super committee is the land-based casino industry’s current great white hope for passage of online poker legislation (or rather, duct-taping a bespoke online poker bill onto must-pass deficit reduction legislation that emerges from this committee before Nov. 23). Kyl’s presence will bolster the hopes of those who believe his letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (co-signed by Sen. Harry Reid) represented a change of heart on the issue of online gambling. For those who aren’t already painfully aware, Kyl’s traditional stance is that online gambling causes anal cancer. (Regular Kyl-watchers will understand that wasn’t intended as a ‘factual statement’.)
As for the other GOP super committee members, Portman and Upton voted to ban gambling online with credit cards in 2003, and Upton also voted for the UIGEA’s forebear (HR4411) in 2006. Camp co-signed a letter Kyl issued last December “opposing… any attempts” by Harry Reid to legalize online poker. Toomey’s record is a little less clear, although in his former life as a Wall Street derivatives trader, he was a vocal opponent of anything that imposed regulations on an otherwise freewheeling market. As for co-chair Hensarling, watch (below) his comments on Rep. Barney Frank’s HR2267 online gambling bill last year and decide for yourself.
As for the committee’s Democrats, their views really aren’t important, given that they’ll ultimately cave to whatever makes the Republicans stop yelling at them. In other words, as far as online poker legislation is concerned, this committee appears more kryptonite than super.