Senator suggests new member for ‘Gang of Six’ budget negotiators

With Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., out of the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators working toward a budget cut proposal that would simultaneously raise the debt ceiling, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has a nominee to take his place.

"I'll make a little news today," Kirk offered Friday on "Morning Joe" when asked if the current quintet will be able to pull through in what was once regarded to be the best hope for a feasible budget resolution. "I think the Gang of Six should probably be the Gang of Six again. I hope Sen. Rob Portman joins, with his connections to the [Office of Management and Budget] and his gravitas; that would help."

Portman, an Ohio Republican, is a former director of the OMB. But Kirk said when he spoke with Portman about it Thursday, he seemed "reticent."

"He needs to be invited," Kirk explained, "but he is the kind of person who could give gravitas to the discussion again, rebalance the group."

With Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's postponement of the deadline when the government will hit its deficit cap to August 2, Kirk said a replacement Republican in the Gang is critical to re-establish "the best chance we have" at composing a workable, bipartisan budget plan.

"You could feel the energy going out of the deficit reduction tires and heading for a July battle instead of a May battle," Kirk said of the extension. "Now we're resetting the battlefield for June, July, with the Gang of Six… being the best act in town."

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