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 PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes MORE’s (R-Ohio) office for discussions.

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 KerryLobbying world Kerry: Trump not pursuing 'smart' or 'clever' plan on North Korea Tillerson will not send high-ranking delegation to India with Ivanka Trump: report 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 BaucusBooker tries to find the right lane  Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns GOP tries to keep spotlight on taxes amid Mueller charges MORE (Mont.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report 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."

Aides from Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery MORE's (R-Ohio) office and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters 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 BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery 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.