Special interests woo Super Congress members with campaign cash

By

 Updated:

Members of the Super Committee meet on Oct. 26, 2011.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The 12 members of the deficit-cutting Super Congress might be the most popular people in Washington. As they deliberate how to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts, special interests are determined to protect their pet programs — and one way to do so is with campaign contributions.

The committee held a rare public meeting Wednesday, and the debate centered on potential savings from the Defense Department budget, given President Obama’s decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq by year’s end. Any cuts to defense spending won’t sit well with defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, who — among others — have been trying to bullet-proof themselves with campaign contributions.

In just six weeks after the committee members were named, political action committees for almost 100 special interests ponied up more than $300,000 in contributions to the lawmakers. The donations will continue to pour in until the committee has finished its work shortly before Thanksgiving.

Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government's ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. The whole Congress is required to take an up-or-down vote on the committee’s recommendations by Dec. 23.