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Sessions frustrated over closed-door debt deal negotiations

"I really think the classic understanding of the way Congress should operate is being undermined because we're not having committees; we're not having amendments; we're not having votes; we're not having debates — we're just sitting here waiting for the president and the Speaker to tell us what to do, apparently," Sessions told CNN.

The lawmaker said that he knew "very little" of what was happening in the "secret process."

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The Alabama lawmaker, like much of Washington, said he was asking sources who might have some clue of how the negotiations were going for more information. But, Sessions said, all he had heard was that the "Speaker was disappointed and things were not moving forward."

If the president is unable to strike a deal with congressional Republicans by the end of the year, tax rates will rise automatically to Clinton-era levels and deep cuts to domestic and defense budgets will be triggered.

Boehner and Obama have been huddling privately in recent days, with a weekend meeting at the White House and a phone discussion on Tuesday night. But since then, the House Speaker has broken his silence with a floor speech on Wednesday and a press conference Thursday. At both appearances, Boehner called on Obama to outline his preferred budget cuts and said he was discouraged by the progress of negotiations.