by Jim Nintzel
Wednesday could prove to be the pivotal day for the congressional deficit reduction super committee as it struggles to reach a deal with only one week to go before its statutory deadline.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — two of the panel's six Democrats — both described the day as "critical."
"We need to find out about whether our Republican colleagues want to continue to negotiate or whether they've drawn a hard line in the sand," Van Hollen said.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, one of the panel's six GOP members, told CNBC Tuesday night that Republicans "have gone as far as we feel we can go" in terms of agreeing to new tax revenues.
"That's the question," Van Hollen said when asked about Hensarling's remarks. "The question is whether they've said 'take it or leave it' and don't want to negotiate."
Hensarling appeared to partially back away from his comments Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters he is "willing to look at any offer." He blasted Democrats, however, for allegedly failing to propose serious reforms to popular but increasingly expensive programs such as Medicare.
"I'm not giving up hope until that stroke of midnight," Hensarling said. But "I'm still waiting for a new offer to be put on the table. ... I'm not going to negotiate against myself."