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Heard on the Hill: Joining the ‘Gang’ Isn’t That Easy

Debt ceiling negotiations have devolved into a strange sort of counting game, and even White House press secretary Jay Carney seems confused.

The bipartisan “gang of six” Senators announced this week that it had reached a compromise plan for ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. Over the past few months, however, membership in the group has been in flux.

Back in May, for example, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) dropped out of the group, making it, at least briefly, just “five guys.”

Then in mid-July, when the negotiations were heating up, he rejoined.

The group presented its plan to Senators earlier this week, prompting Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to tell reporters, “We went from a gang of six to a mob of 50.”

It’s unclear what happened to the mob, but by Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) apparently confused everyone when said he would support of the gang’s plan.

At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, everyone was confused, and Carney and the White House press corps repeatedly referred to the group as the “gang of six,” the “gang of seven” and the “gang of six/seven.”

Finally a reporter asked Carney whether Alexander was, in fact, the newest member of the group — the fifth Beatle, as it were.

“I think there were reports about this, but I’d direct that to Congress,” Carney said. “That’s what — I’m just — based on what I’ve read and seen, yes.”

So did Alexander pass the initiation stage, make his bones and get his teardrop tattoo? Well … no.

The gang of six is still just six, only now it has a supporting party of one.

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