|Updated: 11/16/2011 3:08 pm
||Published: 11/16/2011 3:05 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Sen. Mark Pryor said Wednesday that he's hopeful a special deficit-cutting panel will reach an agreement by next week's deadline and possibly go beyond the $1.2 trillion in cuts it must find, despite signs of deadlock from the committee.
The Democratic senator from Arkansas said he thinks the committee still has time to reach a consensus and urged the members to "go big" in their deficit-cutting recommendations. Pryor told reporters on Wednesday that he believed going higher in deficit cuts would send a strong signal about the nation's commitment to tackling its debt.
"We need to send a very positive signal, to the American people, to the financial markets, to other countries, that we can take care of this debt and we're not going to be captives of our debt, that we can manage this, get it turned around," Pryor said in his weekly conference call with reporters. "It may take a few years, but we can get America turned around and get America out of the red and into the black."
The top Republican on the debt panel, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, had told CNBC Tuesday that the supercommittee is "somewhat stymied for the moment." Pryor said he has talked with several of the members from the committee and they've said they're making progress as they approach their deadline.
The committee of six Democrats and six Republicans was created through a deficit reduction package passed in August and faces a Nov. 23 deadline. A round of automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion would be triggered if it cannot reach an agreement.
Pryor also said that he's open to considering a proposed balanced budget amendment that heads for a vote in Congress later this week, but doesn't necessarily think it would solve all of the federal government's fiscal problems. The debt ceiling deal that created the deficit-cutting supercommittee also required a vote on the amendment.
Pryor said he's instead suggested to some lawmakers that they look at the Revenue Stabilization law Arkansas uses for its balanced budget as a model. Under that law, Arkansas' spending is prioritized based on expected revenues.
"I've made pitches to various members of the supercommittee to say, `If you need a mechanism to balance our budget, especially on discretionary spending, I think I know how to do it," Pryor said "We've been doing it in Arkansas since 1945 and it works. It's simple."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)