As lawmakers grow increasingly fearful that a special Congressional super committee will fail to reach a deal to trim at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit, a bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members is poised to go public with a last ditch push to support the panel.
Last week, Fox reported exclusively on a secret meeting that took place in the office of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., with this same group, drawing from the 100 House members who penned a letter to the super committee calling for all options, including new net tax revenue, to be on the table for a "go big" $4 trillion solution. Members of the so-called "Gang of Six" in the Senate, who have already authored their own $3.7 trillion deficit-cutting plan, and a handful from a wider Senate group that numbers 45 total, joined in the meeting, as well.
Fox has learned, those same members, brought together, in part, by Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, plan to hold a news conference Tuesday to remind the 12-member bipartisan panel that they are there to offer support, this according to aides involved.
A core group of super committee members conducted a flurry of meetings Thursday, including an evening meeting solely between Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. The two exited the hour-long meeting and jokingly staged a handshake for skeptical reporters.
Panel members tell Fox that everyone is working hard, though with little progress toward a deal - everyone that is, except Reps. Xavier Beccera, D-Calif., and Jim Clyburn, D-SC, who members, both Republican and Democrat, say have largely stepped back from the committee's work.
Meanwhile, non-super committee members are growing increasingly restive. "Failure is my worst fear," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-ND, a key "Gang" member. Numerous lawmakers cited both a concern about a failure's effect on the bond markets, as well as the impact of the $1.5 trillion in mandatory cuts that would kick in, as a result, in January 2013.
Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Heath Shuler, D-NC, who honchoed the House "go big" effort, recently told Fox News that anything smaller than $4 trillion merely kicks the can down the fiscal road.
Simpson said it's time for his fellow Republicans to put their country over an Americans for Tax Reform pledge most signed years ago vowing not to raise taxes. "Well, first, the pledge, I signed that in 1998 when I first ran, and I didn't know I was signing a marriage agreement that would last forever."
Indeed, Republicans on the super committee recently proposed about $300 billion in net tax revenue, but Democrats scoffed, saying the net result would actually end up being much smaller, with GOP members insisting on lowering the top marginal income tax rate to 28% from 35%.
Still, the "Go Big" coalition plans to continue to urge members to look for savings in all areas, including entitlements. "We want to support their final product" will be one prominent message, according to a GOP aide involved in the effort.
MacGuineas told PBS in October, referring to the super committee, "Even with all that savings, the debt would still be growing on an unsustainable path - growing faster than the economy. Instead, they should go big. Put everything on the table. Deal with the biggest problems of health care costs and Social Security. Squeeze every last dollar out of defense and ineffective and outdated programs. And reform the tax code so it helps grow the economy and also raises more revenues. Saving $4 trillion might actually be easier than a smaller amount, because there would be a huge upside -- we would have fixed the problem."