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Co-Chairmen Lay Blame for Super Committee Impasse

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Updated: 11:17 a.m.

The co-chairmen of a bipartisan deficit committee refused to say that they had failed to come to an agreement in interviews today.

But although both Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) still held out hope for a deal before the looming Wednesday deadline, neither indicated how that might happen.

“Nobody wants to give up hope,” Hensarling said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Reality is to some extent starting to overtake hope.”

In a separate interview, Murray told CNN’s Candy Crowley that she would be “at the table” for the rest of the day waiting for a Republican deal, but she also said that GOP lawmakers were not willing to compromise.

Both co-chairmen argued that the other party was to blame for the impending failure.

Hensarling said that there are “multiple offers” to reduce the deficit, but he blamed Democrats on the 12-member Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, saying they would only accept an offer that raised taxes.

Murray said the problem was Republicans who have taken a pledge not to raise taxes with conservative activist Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform.

“As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do,” she said.

The super committee must reach an agreement by Wednesday, or $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts will be made to the budget over the next year.

But Hensarling indicated he did not think those cuts would come to pass as currently constructed.

“Under the law, Congress will have 13 months to do that in a smarter, more prudent fashion,” he said.

Super committee member Sen. Pat Toomey, who offered a compromise plan that would reform the tax code and extend the Bush-era tax cuts, blamed Democrats on Sunday, saying they were unwilling to compromise on spending cuts for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the Pennsylvania Republican noted that he was criticized by conservatives for his plan.

“It was a reach for us to put that on the table,” Toomey said. “I’ve taken a lot of arrows for this.”

Ryan Teague Beckwith contributed to this report.

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