WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the Congress on Tuesday named two top lieutenants to a White House-led panel tasked with hammering out a budget plan that can win support from both parties.
Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, were named to the panel, expected to hold its first meeting on May 5.
Kyl and Cantor will be outnumbered by Democrats, who last week appointed four members from their party to the panel, which will be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
President Barack Obama hopes the group can bridge the divide between rival plans that would gradually reduce the United States' annual budget deficits to a sustainable level.
Budget deficits have hovered around 10 percent of gross domestic product in recent years, due largely to tax cuts, wars and the deepest recession since the 1930s.
Deficits are projected to shrink as the economy improves in coming years, before widening again as an aging population drives up retirement and healthcare costs.
Standard & Poor's on Monday threatened to lower its top-tier rating on U.S. government debt unless the Obama administration and Congress come up with a plan within two years to bring deficits down to a manageable level.
Democratic members on the panel include: Senator Daniel Inouye, who heads the Appropriations Committee; Senator Max Baucus, the chamber's top tax writer; Representative James Clyburn, a member of the Democratic leadership in the House; and Representative Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Steve Holland; editing by Doina Chiacu and Todd Eastham)