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Doubts rise that 'Supercommittee' can reach deal

Only 28 days stand between the deficit “Supercommitte” and the looming deadline of Nov. 23rd, leaving some worried that the time constraint may make a deal harder to achieve.

"Time is short. That doesn't give you a lot of confidence," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters today, "But the reports that I have received from our three [members of the committee] is that there is an honest effort."

Doubts about whether a deal will be struck by the deadline are beginning to rise, with Hoyer stepping away from a generally positive tone he has held before. 

"I'm not optimistic,” he said today. “I'm hopeful.”

When pressed if he was confident that a deal would be met, he made sure to clarify his opinion. 

"Did I say I was confident?" Hoyer asked reporters.

"You said you were hopeful," a reporter said.

"Hopeful is not confident," Hoyer responded.

The Supercommittee has been tasked with achieving $1.5 trillion in cuts as part of the debt limit deal reached in August.  If at least $1.2 trillion in cuts is not reached, a "trigger" will be pulled which will result in just under $1 trillion in across the board cuts to defense and entitlements.

"Obviously there is a strong constraint of time," Rep. John Larson (D-CT) explained to reporters today, "but a great opportunity here." 

Larson hinted to the current Congressional calendar as need for concern. 

If Congress continues with its current schedule, there are only five days in which both the House and Senate will be in session at the same time between now and the Nov. 23rd deadline. Members of the Supercommittee have been meeting during recesses the past weeks, so the lack of overlap is not necessarily a cause for panic, but it does create logistical barriers.

Democrats in the House continue to push for a "big deal" that reaches somewhere in the vicinity of $4 trillion, and falls within the guidelines of previous deficit reduction groups that have tried, but failed, to achieve that level of cuts in the deficit.

"I think it's absolutely essential that we do so, that we succeed in producing a product that is a big deal and not a small deal," Hoyer said. "If we do a small deal we'll have to revist that."

Republican Supercommittee co-Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who has repeatedly said that "nothing is off the table," says he is "encouraged" that they will be able to reach a consensus.

"I remain encouraged that the members of the Joint-Select Committee know how serious the situation is, and I believe they are all committed to achieving the goal," Hensarling told reporters today. "The report is due at midnight on November 22nd, and we still have plenty of time to make that."