Another day of closed-door huddles, another day with few signs of progress from Congress’s debt supercommittee.
Republican members of the bipartisan panel met late Thursday afternoon with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), while Democrats on the 12-member committee held their own meetings throughout the day.
As the group’s deadline looms six days away, the only tidbit of news that members on either aisle were willing to share publicly on Thursday was that the panel will likely continue its negotiations through the weekend.
“Probably,” is what Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said as he exited the supercommittee Republicans’ meeting.
Toomey, like other GOP members, had little to say publicly as they exited their meeting with Boehner and McConnell.
“I’m not going to characterize the status of anything; it just kind of gets misinterpreted, and so on, and so on, so I’m going to continue my ‘no comment,’” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the third Senate Republican on the supercommittee, had only this to say to reporters staking out the meeting: “We’re still talking. We’re still trying.”
Democrats on Thursday afternoon were somewhat more talkative, but gave few indications of progress.
Asked where negotiations currently stand, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said late Thursday afternoon that the ball remains in the Republicans’ court.
“Well, we’re trying to figure out whether our Republican colleagues have drawn an absolute line in the sand with respect to their last proposal or whether they’re still willing to negotiate, and we believe we should not give up on negotiation,” he said. “We’re prepared to look for every option.”
Another House Democrat on the panel, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), also pointed the finger at Republicans.
“You know, it’s like Chairwoman Murray said: If our Republican colleagues would just make a credible offer on revenue, we’re in the hunt,” he said, referring to the Democratic co-chair of the panel, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “The sweet spot’s close.”
Republicans have contended that it’s up to Democrats to present a counter-offer following the GOP’s most recent proposal last week, which for the first time included new tax revenue.
While most members and congressional leaders seemed pessimistic on Thursday, Becerra said that he thought the day’s closed-door huddles among Democrats were “pretty good” and that it’s still possible for a deal to be reached.
“I think on the Democratic side we feel pretty good that if conversations can continue — I mean, the window’s really closing quickly, but there’s still some opportunity. ... It’s just a matter of whether folks will take that leap,” he said.
Some Republicans, including Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the co-chair of the panel, have called on President Obama to get more involved in the panel’s negotiations and clarify his position on what type of deal he would veto.
Becerra said Thursday that he believes it’s not necessary for the White House to get more involved.
“We’ve done fairly well, the twelve of us,” he said. “And I think we all know what’s on the table. The president put his proposal on the table; I’m not sure what more he needs to tell us, other than what he’s been saying: ‘Get it done.’”