As time runs short ahead of the supercommittee’s deadline Wednesday, so is the hope that the panel will reach a bipartisan agreement.
There were no in-person meetings today, according to Republican and Democratic aides close to the negotiations, although some members on the panel participated in conference phone calls in a final quest for a deal.
Asked whether the committee would submit a new proposal to the Congressional Budget Office, Sen. Jon Kyl said “that’s pretty doubtful at this point,” but told reporters that in order to stay on track to pass a proposal before the Nov. 23 deadline, the committee would have to submit something to CBO by the end of the weekend.
“They’ve scored a lot of things [at CBO], and the hope was even at this late date you could take things that had been scored and put them together, but that’s pretty doubtful at this point,” said Kyl, an Arizona Republican. “Obviously nobody wants to quit until the stroke of midnight, as you can see up here by my presence.”
Kyl confirmed “there were discussions today,” but with little hope for a bipartisan deal he refused to characterize the status of the talks. Instead, he reminded reporters that regardless of whether the committee comes up with an agreement, there is a mechanism to ensure a minimum of $1.2 trillion in deficit savings.
“No matter what happens, Congress has to reduce spending by $1.2 trillion one way or another. It would be better if we could reach an agreement on how to do it, but if we don’t, then there’s the sequester,” Kyl said. “We’ve done a huge amount of work and however this comes out, that work is not going to go to waste.”
Kyl, the only lawmaker on the 12-member supercommittee who was spotted in the Capitol today, would not reveal whether the negotiations are over, but he suggested that when there is news to report the co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, would announce it.
As he left the Capitol, Kyl said he was surprised how quickly Democrats rejected the Republicans’ “last-ditch” offer Friday to save $643 billion over the next decade, including $229 billion in additional revenues and $316 billion in spending cuts without touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
“We understand if [Democrats] don’t want to tackle a lot of these healthcare entitlements, but we’ve talked about all of these other things a lot,” Kyl said. “We thought maybe that was a way to … at least accomplish something and not come away with a goose egg, but it has been rejected.”