Late Saturday, aides told me the committee's private discussions had turned toward how to publicly acknowledge they were unable to come to an agreement.
"Conversations are still happening, but its mostly about how to put this thing to bed," said one Democratic source.
Staffers continue to claim a dim, shrinking hope that Republicans and Democrats can agree to at least a trivial package of cuts. But that's unlikely unless Republicans are willing to agree to raise taxes on wealthy Americans -- which so far they've been wholly unwilling to do.
Late last week Republicans proposed a fallback plan of about $600 billion, almost entirely from spending cuts, higher user fees, and sales of federal property. Democrats publicly mocked the plan. But privately, Democratic sources say even a fallback plan would need to be comprised of measures split between those that Democrats prefer and those that Republicans want so neither side cedes leverage in future budget negotiations.