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Durbin Asks More Senators to Join Deficit Reduction Talks

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Sunday that the bipartisan “gang of six” Senators working on a deficit reduction plan were ready to reveal their work when Sen. Tom Coburn walked away from the talks, and he called on other Senators to join their negotiations.

“We were ready to announce, as far as I was concerned, and then Sen. Coburn said, ‘No, I’m not a part of this,’ and walked away,” the Illinois Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The question now is whether Senators on both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican, will step up and say, ‘Don’t stop.’”

The plan followed the guidelines proposed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform chaired by former Bill Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and would have cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion over 10 years, according to Durbin.

“What we need this week is for a bipartisan group of Senators to step up and tell us, now the gang of five, we want to sit down with you, we want to proceed with you in a bipartisan way to deal with this deficit,” he said. “We have the framework — not only the Bowles-Simpson commission but the work we’ve done. We should not abandon all the work we’ve put into it.”

Durbin said he believes that a final compromise on raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit is likely to be influenced by the many small groups working on the problems. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly said that he believes the group with the best chance of success is the bicameral, bipartisan negotiators being led by Vice President Joseph Biden.

“What we need to acknowledge that no single group, gang of five or six, Joe Biden, can come to this conclusion,” Durbin said Sunday. “But maybe, just maybe, bringing together the best ideas of all of them, we’re going to find a solution to this problem.”