In it, but not of it. TPM DC
No one is really sure what will become of the negotiations, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters will start tonight.
"I don't know," Baucus said when asked when he thinks the negotiations will produce results. "I mean, [Reid] said he hopes things will be resolved fairly quickly, but around here it's hard to tell."
Reid didn't sound terribly optimistic about the prospects for the negotiations either.
"I would hope that this will allow the American people to say that we're trying to work in good faith to come up with a bipartisan proposal," he told reporters. "If we can't do that, then we will come forward with what we believe is the best solution for the American people."
As he has in the past, Reid said that best solution would "protect the middle class."
In appointing Van Hollen, Speaker Pelosi said that she's sending a representative to the negotiations who "brings expertise on how best to provide a tax cut for the middle class as well as a commitment to reduce the deficit."
"House Democrats have long supported extending the tax cuts for America's middle class in a way that is consistent with pay-as-you-go. Democrats continue to have concerns about the impact on the deficit of giving a tax cut to the nation's wealthiest 2 percent," Pelosi said in a statement. "We must evaluate every proposal as to how it creates jobs, grows our economy, and reduces the deficit."
House Republican leader Boehner made it clear his side intends to stick to its guns in the negotiations, too.
"We appreciate President Obama's interest in having informal discussions on stopping all the tax hikes, and we hope these talks are productive," Boehner said in statement. "At the same time, this is no substitute for action. Republicans made a pledge to America to cut spending and permanently stop all the tax hikes, and that's exactly what we're fighting for."
Update: Sources tell TPM that the negotiations will not start tonight as Reid said, but will likely start tomorrow.