Breaking up is hard to do.
While a Hail Mary pass could still be a possibility for the supercommittee in its mission to come up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts by Wednesday, with an embarrassing and costly failure for the nation and for 12 individual lawmakers looming, there is a poignant sense of doom and gloom on Capitol Hill today.
As members of the supercommittee fanned out on the Sunday morning talk shows, pessimism seeped through the sputtering spin that both sides are legitimately working in the waning hours to broker a last-minute deal.
“The reality is to some extent starting to overtake hope,” co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said this morning on “Fox News Sunday” — a rare moment of candor at where this process really seems to be, although in the same breath he insisted that there still is reason to hope for a late moment breakthrough.
But quietly, contingency plans are being drawn up for when and if the members have to officially call this a failure. Aides confirm that on some levels there have been conversations about how to close the door on the supercommittee.
“There have been conversations about how to put the period on the sentence tomorrow if there is no deal,” a source familiar with the supercommittee confirmed this morning.
If members fail to reach a deal today, likely at some point Monday the co-chairs of the committee, Hensarling and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., will issue a joint paper statement announcing the committee is over by failing to reach a deal.
Aides on Capitol Hill continue to insist that talks continue throughout the day today. But no one is optimistic that now, after months of hearings and meetings, that they will be able to bridge the divide.
“Hope remains,” a Democratic aide said of the day’s work that lays ahead the 12 members, adding that Democrats are waiting for Republicans to come back and put revenue on the table.
The halls of Congress are eerily quiet today. Aides say that meetings will take place at some point today as they continue to work toward a last minute deal of some sort — potentially one to lessen the blow if they can’t get to $1.2 trillion in cuts — but as of now, no formal meetings have been scheduled.