A bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators is unlikely to reach agreement on a proposal to reduce the government’s long-term budget deficits, Senator Tom Coburn said today.
Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and member of the group, said his colleagues remain “just too far apart on basic issues.”
Other senators in the group seeking a budget accord in Washington said an agreement remains within reach.
The group has been working privately for months trying to achieve an agreement on a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit. Its negotiations have been closely followed in part because its members come from across the ideological spectrum of the Senate.
The group’s momentum has been flagging in recent weeks just as debate has heated up over what sort of budget cuts to attach to a needed increase in the federal debt ceiling. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has repeatedly said he believes a separate group of lawmakers led by Vice President Joe Biden is more likely to agree on a deficit- reduction plan.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, the gang’s Republican co-leader, said today while discussions are hitting a difficult period, he still hopes it will be able to reach a deal.
“We’re going to hopefully keep working at it until we come to some resolution, but you know, when you get down to the few issues that are really the game-changers, that’s when it gets tough. That’s kind of where we are,” Chambliss told reporters today.
Asked whether the negotiators are far apart on key issues, he said, “There’s a good discussion ongoing, but let me just say we’re not there.” Chambliss said he would “love to finish this week, but we’ve never had a deadline, so I can’t say that we’re that close.”
The group has been meeting daily and plans another session later today, Chambliss said.
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