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 PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 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 KerryFeehery: Oprah Dem presidential bid unlikely Dem hopefuls flock to Iowa Change in Iran will only come from its people — not the United States 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 BaucusSteady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate Canada crossing fine line between fair and unfair trade MORE (Mont.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare 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 BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE's (R-Ohio) office and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit 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 BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism 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.