(CNN) – The Democratic co-chair of the debt-cutting congressional super committee said Sunday her panel was not close to a deal that would cut the federal debt, but remained optimistic of a compromise in the hours left before the group’s deadline.
“There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice, where everybody contributes in a very challenging time for our country,” Washington Sen. Patty Murray told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.”
“That's the Bush tax cuts, and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over a million dollars every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven't seen any Republicans willing to cross yet,” Murray said.
Democrats are key on letting the Bush-era tax cuts, which provide cuts for wealthier Americans, expire in 2012.
The bipartisan committee of 12 has until Wednesday to officially present a plan that would cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit, but practically must have a proposal in place by Monday for review by lawmakers and the Congressional Budget Office.
Members of Congress must vote on a deal by December 23. The consequences of not reaching an agreement are stark: automatic across-the-board cuts, including major reductions in defense spending.
Murray said she was still optimistic a deal would be made, and that she would be waiting for lawmakers from the other side of the aisle to come forward with a compromise solution.
“I'm going to be waiting all day,” Murray said. “I'll be at the table, as I've been, willing to talk to any Republican who says, look, my country is more important, this pile of bills is not going to go away, the challenges that we have is not going to disappear, we need to cross that divide. I'm ready, I'm waiting. Today I'll be at the table, all night long. We have a few hours left.”
Murray took harsh aim at Republicans who have taken a pledge not to raise taxes from the president of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform.
“I'll tell you one of the problems has been a pledge that too many Republicans took to a Republican wealthy lobbyist by the name of Grover Norquist, whose name has come up in meetings time and time again,” Murray said.
“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.”
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