Authors: Jeanette Torres
(WASHINGTON) -- With just two weeks until its deadline to reach agreement on cutting $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction reached a tense and prickly moment on Wednesday.
The so-called Super Committee's 12 members last met for a full meeting more than a week ago. There are currently no additional meetings scheduled, and one Republican aide described the situation as the critical moment right before negotiations could potentially fall apart.
Reports of a complete breakdown of the Super Committee swept through Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Democrats on the Super Committee have walked away from working on a deal.
Paul, who is not a member of the supercommittee, told ABC News that the six Democrats are "no longer negotiating."
When asked about the status of the negotiations, Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic co-chairwoman of the committee, told ABC News while leaving the Senate floor on Wednesday that the reports of Democrats walking away from negotiations are not true.
"We haven't stepped away from anything," said Murray, D-Wash. "There's a lot of conversation and a lot of work going on."
Aides said that although there were no full meetings with all 12 members of the Super Committee scheduled, smaller side meetings are taking place on a regular basis.
Capitol Hill sources quietly suggested this week that Democrats refused bipartisan meetings of the full committee for the last several days until Republicans come up with what the Democrats consider a "serious" counter-offer.
Murray would not specifically address that claim, but said both parties are working with an acute awareness of the Nov. 23 deadline.
A Senate aide with knowledge of the inner-workings of the Super Committee would not characterize the Democrats as walking away from the table, and stressed that smaller breakaway meetings continue. The aide said that if there was a reason for the full committee to meet, they would.
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