A key member of the bipartisan group of senators searching for months for a solution to the nation's debt crisis says he is "discouraged," and fears the so-called Gang of Six cannot come up with a solution.
"We can't bridge the gap between what actually needs to happen and what people will allow to happen," a clearly frustrated Sen. Tom Coburn told reporters Tuesday. The Oklahoma Republican said, "I'm discouraged," but when asked if he is still a member of the group, Coburn said, "I'm a member of the gang."
Most signs point to Coburn being out of the group entirely, except for the insistence by the senator himself that those rumors aren't true. His office says he's taking a break from talks.
Sources tell Fox News the group just met to try to chart a path forward, but Coburn didn't show up. The signal from Coburn is not a good sign for any possible compromise. And it will, no doubt, be a discouraging sign to the many senators on both sides of the aisle who are looking for a way to reduce the debt while also approving a hike in the nation's borrowing limit.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, quickly released a statement, saying, "No amount of closed-door meetings, commissions, or summits will change the basic fact that in order to move forward the White House and the Democrat Senate must put forward an honest plan that ends the Washington spending spree instead of raising taxes to pay for it."
Up until Monday, Coburn had largely stuck to the suggestions coming from the president's fiscal commission, but, according to the source, Coburn made an "eleventh hour change" saying he wanted deeper cuts to government health care programs.
For now, the rest of the group will have to wait. "We hope that he joins us tomorrow," the source said.