by STACEY KAPER, National Journal

After two years of near-weekly meetings, countless conference calls, breakfasts, and dinners spent batting back and forth deficit-reduction ideas, the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators is shifting its focus, now that the deadline for a fiscal-cliff deal is just days away.

Instead of trying to craft its own deal, the group is putting its considerable energy toward encouraging a budget compromise between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, according to aides of the senators. Should Obama and Boehner arrive at a deal, the group will seek to rally momentum for its passage on Capitol Hill—where it may need considerable help—although it’s questionable how much cover the senators could give a package that might come under siege from both conservatives and liberals in the House who blanch at a tax-hike/entitlement-cut deal.

The gang has not held a formal meeting since Nov. 13 and has no plans to do so, aides say. But that doesn’t mean its members aim to sit idly by as the nation careens toward a fiscal precipice.

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