This story has been updated.
The co-chairman of the bipartisan debt supercommittee said Friday that the panel is “painfully aware” of its deadline just five days away and is prepared to meet through the weekend in the hope of working out a deal.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) made the remaks in a one-minute news conference with reporters outside his office in the Cannon House Office Building as membersof the group of 12 continued huddling in their separate corners, with prospects of a deal waning.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said Thursday that she doesn’t expect a “big, bold” deal from the bipartisan panel, told reporters Friday morning that she believes the potential for any supercommittee deal is “still alive, in my understanding.”
“I’m an eternal optimist, but as long as there’s some hope about it, I think we have to give it the chance that the American people deserve and expect,” she said.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), one of three House Democrats on the supercommittee, said Friday that the panel’s members “batted around a lot of ideas” at Thursday night’s bipartisan meeting but didn’t get very far.
“We’re looking at whatever approach we take, it needs to meet the test of being balanced, and it needs to have a jobs component,” Van Hollen said of the Democratic position.
He added that those who are calling for Congress to undo the $1.2 trillion across-the-board cut that would take effect in 2013 if the supercommittee fails “aren’t serious about the deficit.
“The time to make these choices is now,” he said. “The time to make these hard choices is now. ... I think we should remain focused on trying to get the job done.”
Here is Hensarling’s full statement:
“Last night, members of the joint select committee, Republicans and Democrats, met again to negotiate, to talk about new ideas. Today, members of the joint select committee, Republicans and Democrats, are again together to try to find common ground. If an agreement is not reached today, members of the joint select committee, Democrats and Republicans, will meet through the weekend. We are painfully, painfully aware of the deadline that is staring us in the face, and we have 12 good people who have worked hard since this committee has been created to try to find sufficient common ground for an agreement that would simultaneously address both our nation’s job crisis and the debt crisis. And clearly, when we have something more to report, we will report it.”
Although the panel’s deadline is Nov. 23, any debt-reduction proposal the group approves would need to be scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That sets the actual deadline for a deal at least 48 hours ahead of the official deadline of midnight Wednesday.