"That is a priority for us," Pelosi said. "But let me say it is more than a priority - it is a value... it's an ethic for the American people. It is one that all of the members of our caucus share. So that I know that whoever's at that table will be someone who will fight to protect those benefits."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will also appoint three members to the committee. And if even a single one of them is willing to cut into Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, then Pelosi's efforts won't really matter -- the committee's report can be approved by a bare majority of its 12 members.
But if Reid and Pelosi play this smart, they could create a sturdy firewall. And that's especially true if Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appoint people to the committee who pledge not to allow net revenue increases.
So far Republican leaders have not responded to inquiries about whether that will be a requirement.