By Erik Wasson
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the deficit-reduction supercomittee, insisted Thursday that the panel's members are still actively seeking a deal despite concerns from many lawmakers that the group is deadlocked.
“There will be plenty of meetings this week,” he said. “There are lot of ideas going back and forth.”
Portman said later he does not know of any full supercommittee meetings upcoming but that the smaller group meetings are “usually” more helpful in any case.
Portman has met with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) as part of a sub-grouping seen as representing a possible middle ground in the talks.
The Portman comments offer some degree of hope that the supercommittee will meet its goal of $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by its Nov. 23 deadline. In reality the deadline is much sooner given the need to have congressional budget watchdogs score the proposal.
Portman said the deadline is “as soon as possible given the need to score everything.”
The senator's remarks come as aides on both sides of the aisle say their bosses are waiting for the other side to generate a new formal proposal. Combined with the fact the supercommittee has held no negotiating sessions this week, such a waiting game would indicate a stalemate.
“Democrats made an offer last week and we made a counter — so the ball is their court,” one GOP aide said late Wednesday.
“The ball is very much in the Republicans’ court right now. Democrats have indicated they are willing to compromise, and now it’s up to Republicans to show that they are willing to do the same,” a Democratic aide said.
A central problem remains revenue, with Republicans unwilling to consider tax increases and Democrats insisting upon them. A Democratic aide said Thursday that sub-groups are running into the same problem as the supercommittee, with Republicans refusing to give ground on taxes.
During a Thursday news conference held to promote House GOP jobs legislation stalled in the Senate, Portman stood by as Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.) said they would favor revenue from increased economic growth but do not support tax increases in a supercommittee deal.
— Russell Berman contributed.
This story was updated at 2:31 p.m.