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Lawmakers make last-ditch effort to reach supercommittee deal

Supercommittee members met Monday in an effort to reach a last-ditch deal to reduce the federal deficit.

Seven of the supercommittee members — three Republicans and four Democrats — met Monday morning, hours before the panel’s midnight deadline to send a deal to the Congressional Budget Office to be scored.

The Republican members then retired to Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE’s (R-Ohio) office for discussions.

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A GOP leadership aide told The Hill that the group was not discussing a statement of failure, but a last-ditch effort to avoid a failure that has seemed inescapable over the weekend, when supercommittee members turned to the Sunday talk shows to blame one another for the impasse.

At the same time, aides suggested the latest talks were unlikely to end with success. 

One GOP aide said members were discussing a new proposal on taxes from Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes Kerry2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states When it comes to Colombia, America is in a tough spot 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.), which the aide dismissed as a gimmick. 

"At the eleventh hour, Sen. Kerry offered a new gimmick to get to the Democrats' same trillion-dollar tax hike. There is no indication that any other [panel] Democrat supports it," a GOP aide said.

The Republican members who attended the bipartisan meeting in Kerry’s office suite were Portman, Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.).

Democrats attending the meeting were Kerry, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben Baucus2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer Steady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate MORE (Mont.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt MORE (Wash.), the co-chairwoman of the panel.


Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, said both sides are still searching for a deal.

"We're still going forward," he said. "We have a few more hours."

Baucus said Kerry "has a new idea" for the tax reform portion of the package, but declined to provide details.

"It's a new idea, which confirms my point that we're continuing to meet," Baucus said. "Both sides are feeling angst, greater angst, at the possibility of no agreement, so they're working harder, more creatively to see what can be accomplished. That's happening on both sides."

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Aides from Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE's (R-Ohio) office and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE's (R-Ky.) office joined the GOP supercommittee members for the Republican meeting in Portman's office a little over 30 minutes after it began.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE’s office already has sent out a memo blaming President Obama for a failure by the supercommittee.

The supercommittee faces a Wednesday deadline to agree to at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over 10 years. If it fails, automatic cuts to national security and domestic spending would be triggered, though they would not be implemented until January 2013.

The panel members must get a deal to budget examiners by the end of the day in order for it to be scored by Wednesday.

Baucus downplayed the significance of Monday's falling stock markets, saying it's "down a little bit, [but] stock markets also go back up."

Hopes that a deal could be reached appeared to flicker in the comments from Democrats attending the Monday meeting. 

Van Hollen said ideas were being discussed, while Baucus said the group still had "a few more hours." 

— Erik Wasson contributed to this report.

— Posted at 2:03  p.m. and last updated at 4:08 p.m.