President Obama announced Tuesday that he would pull together four members of Congress with his Treasury Secretary and Budget Director to work out a compromise on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, an agreement that has so far alluded members, primarily with Democrats in disarray about how to move forward.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tapped his top lieutenant, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the GOP Whip, for the Senate Republican slot.
Completing the Senate side of the negotiating table, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Kyl said, "Hopefully today," when asked how soon negotiations with Secretary Tim Geithner and Director Jack Lew on a tax cut compromise could begin.
Republicans have maintained that all the tax cuts should be extended, preferably permanently, but they have also been clear that they would accept a short term extension, as well.
McConnell's choice is particularly interesting, in that it would seem to bypass the most obvious choices, his current top Republican on the tax-writing panel, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and his incoming chairman of that panel, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Kyl has been the point person for Senate Republicans on whether or not to ratify the New START Treaty. This new tax cut job would, no doubt, distract from the ongoing tussle with the White House and diplomatic community on whether or not the Senate will approve the measure, called the resolution of ratification.
Administration officials have mounted a full court press to either move Kyl away from his opposition, something that still does not appear likely even after Tuesday's two-hour meeting, or to peel off the nine Republicans necessary for super majority approval.