By Russell Berman and Erik Wasson - 11/15/11 04:56 PM EST
The GOP co-chairman of the deficit supercommittee told House Republicans on Tuesday that Democratic division on the panel is hindering a deal.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) offered the thoughts while briefing House Republicans on the status of the panel’s secretive negotiations Tuesday, according to members who attended the closed-door session. He told his colleagues the GOP had put multiple offers on the table that Democrats had yet to accept.
“The Republicans’ problem has been that they are not dealing with a Democrat Party that’s been cohesive in their position,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) said after the meeting.
"There are definitely folks on our side who feel Minority Leader Pelosi made appointments in order to kill the supercommittee," Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said. "We made an offer and they can't seem to come together to respond to it."
Democrats have acknowledged their six members are not in agreement.
Panel member Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), said Sunday that Democrats had “not coalesced” around a $2.2 trillion offer.
“Well, you know, that is ‘a’ Democrat’s plan. It's not ‘the’ Democratic plan,” Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There are six Democrats on this committee, and though I have a great deal of admiration and respect for all of them, the fact of the matter is, Democrats have not coalesced around a plan.”
A second supercommittee Democrat, Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), also said Tuesday that the six Democrats have not agreed to one deal they can present to Republicans.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that the GOP offer was “fair,” referring to a $1.2 trillion proposal by supercommittee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that included $300 billion in new tax revenue.
“Both Democrats and Republicans have all done good work, they’ve worked very hard, but there isn’t an agreement,” Boehner said. “I’m convinced that if there is an agreement that it can, in fact, pass.”
The Speaker made the case for overhauling the tax code but said “the details of how we get there, quite frankly, are yet to be worked out.”
Boehner acknowledged that one idea under discussion was to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment benefits — two key elements of President Obama’s jobs plan — and pay for them with budget savings from the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans have previously said that counting the war savings is a “gimmick.”
“It’s too early to predict how those issues will be dealt with,” Boehner said.
One Republican described Hensarling’s briefing of the supercommittee talks as “clinical,” and another said he was “cautiously optimistic” about a deal after hearing the update.
The 12-member panel has until Nov. 23 to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, or that amount in automatic cuts will be triggered.
Supercommittee member Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said the group is “not going to give up.”
“It is not over until November 23rd,” he said, adding that he and his colleagues had no plans to present a new “package” at this time and that discussions were ongoing related to what is already on the table.
“Our leaders kind of laid out what the state of play was because there have obviously been some developments while everyone was out of town,” Camp said of the meeting.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stood by the GOP offer.
“I think it was a strong attempt to try to break a logjam,” he said.
He noted that the offer included extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire in 2013.
“Held up against a big tax increase that is coming, I’ll take that any day,” he said.
—Updated at 3:17 p.m.