By Alexander Bolton - 06/09/11 05:50 PM EDT
After months of keeping their work secret, the remaining members of the Senate Gang of Six have opened up their negotiations to a broader group of Democratic and Republican colleagues.
About 18 senators, an even mix from both parties, met in Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinMcConnell pledges redo vote on Zika after break Senate Democrats want new round of Zika talks Supreme Court limps to finish MORE’s (Ill.) office Thursday to build support for the Gang of Six’s unfinished work.
Members of the gang were very close to an agreement, according to Democratic negotiators, until Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump McCain: No third-party foes coming for Trump Tough choice for vulnerable GOP senators: Embrace or reject Trump MORE (R-Okla.) pulled out of the group.
The remaining Republican members, Chambliss and Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoPost Orlando, hawks make a power play Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers Senate narrowly rejects new FBI surveillance MORE (Idaho), say they will not strike a final deal in Coburn’s absence.
Durbin and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) the Democratic members of the group are now trying to build broader bipartisan support around what the gang negotiated so far.
The lawmakers invited colleagues who signed a letter in March calling on President Obama to take the lead in comprehensive deficit reduction measures.
“My purpose is to make sure as many senators who urged us on, the 64 who signed the letter, have a chance to find out where we are, and give a sense of the package as it was developed. It’s not completed but how far we’ve gotten and what the elements are,” Conrad said.
The 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans who signed the letter asked Obama to lead a broad discussion on spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform.
Sen. Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.), who organized the letter to Obama, attended the meeting in Durbin’s office. So did Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinOvernight Cybersecurity: Hackers hit Brexit petition Senate Intel leader: ISIS using encrypted apps to plan attacks Meet the man who sparked the Democratic revolt on guns MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kay HaganKay Hagan10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' Washington's lobby firms riding high MORE (D-N.C.).
“We’ve reached a natural point at which it seemed like the next natural step is to share what we’ve been doing with other members,” Conrad said.
Conrad said it made sense for the remaining members of the gang to share their work because they were very close to reaching a conclusion.
Conrad, Durbin and Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerDrone use growing in surprising ways Overnight Cybersecurity: Pentagon cyber operations in the spotlight Lawmakers sound alarm over decaying Memorial Bridge MORE (Va.), the third Democrat in the gang, are not looking replace Coburn, however. They hope he may rejoin their talks.