Lawmakers shouldn't be so quick to rule out changes or cuts to Social Security, a top Senate Democrat participating in bipartisan Gang of Six talks says in a new interview.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Graham and Kushner met to discuss immigration differences: report Trump's FBI nominee passes committee, heads to full Senate MORE (D-Ill.), the majority whip who's negotiating with two other Democrats and three Republicans on a major deficit-reduction plan, broke from more liberal members of his party, who want to safeguard Social Security from any changes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Durbin said he wouldn't be signing on to a "Sense of the Senate" resolution by Bernie SandersBernie SandersParliamentarian deals setback to Republican healthcare bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? OPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance MORE (I-Vt.), a liberal who caucuses with Democrats, saying that benefits should not be cut. And he warned that revisions to the program, such as means-testing benefits for wealthier Americans, could be among the changes suggested by the negotiators.

"If we deal with it today, it's an easier solution than waiting. I think we ought to deal with it. Many of my colleagues disagree, [and would] put it off to another day," Durbin said of Social Security in a video interview with ABC News posted Tuesday. "But from my point of view, leaving it out makes it easier politically — including it, I think, meets an obligation, which we have to senior citizens."

But any changes suggested by the Gang of Six — which consists of Durbin, along with Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerSusan Rice met with Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Russia probe Dem senator: Pardoning targets of Russia probe would be 'crossing a fundamental line' Juan Williams: Trump's war on U.S. intelligence MORE (D-Va.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissFormer GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race MORE (R-Ga.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnCongress, stop using our nation's military policy for political purposes Congress must rid itself of political 'pork' to preserve its integrity 'Path of least resistance' problematic for Congress MORE (R-Okla.) and Mike CrapoMike CrapoBusiness pressure ramps up against Trump's Ex-Im nominee GOP lawmakers introduce measures to repeal consumer bureau arbitration rule Senate Banking leaders introduce flood insurance bill MORE (R-Idaho) — could meet stiff resistance from other Democrats, a possibility Durbin acknowledged.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.) has been vociferously opposed to any changes to Social Security, going so far as to say that he'd examine Social Security only 20 years from now (by which point he'd presumably be gone from Congress). That's when Social Security is expected to face the worst of its financial crisis.

The resolution by Sanders is intended to underscore liberal fears that Social Security would be neutered by any comprehensive plan to address long-term debt, but Durbin said that resolution goes "too far" and would constrain lawmakers too much in their ability to make changes to the program.

Nonetheless, Durbin suggested that his colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle are beginning to see the light when it comes to deficits and debt, though not without some reluctance.

"Many of my friends on the left — and they are my friends; these are my roots, politically — are going through the stages of grief. Denial, anger, frustration, sadness, resignation," he said. "Because they understand that borrowing 40 cents for every dollar you spend, whether it's for a missile or food stamps, is just unsustainable."