Sunday, December 30, 2012

McConnell Cites Lack of Urgency in Fiscal Cliff Talks, Reaches Out to Vice President 

Dec 30 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the status of the fiscal cliff negotiations:

“My office submitted an offer to the majority leader last night at 7:10 pm and offered to work through the night to find common ground. The majority leader's staff informed us they would be getting back to us this morning at 10 a.m.-- despite our obvious time crunch. It’s now 2 p.m. and we’ve yet to receive a response to our good-faith offer.

“I'm concerned with the lack of urgency here. There’s far too much at stake for political gamesmanship.

“We need to protect American families and businesses from this looming tax hike. Everyone agrees that action is necessary.

“In order to get things moving, I have just spoken with Sen. Reid.  I also placed a call to the Vice President to see if he could help jump start the negotiations on their side. The Vice President and I have worked together on solutions before and I believe we can again.

“I want my colleagues to know that we’ll keep everyone updated.

“The consequences of this are too high for the American people to be engaged in a political messaging campaign. I'm interested in a result here. And I'm willing to work with whomever can help.

“There is no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point - the sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest, or courage to close the deal.

“I'm willing to get this done but I need a dance partner.”

Senate showdown set for Monday

University of Louisville/flickr
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Biden

Fiscal talks took a step backwards earlier today when Republicans insisted on including chained CPI in the agreement. A Senate Democratic aide told me this afternoon, "We believed it was mutually understood that chained CPI was off the table for a smaller-scale agreement, and see Republicans' continued insistence on including it as a major setback."
Democrats held firm, and soon after, GOP members backed off -- at least on this one provision.
Negotiations over a last-ditch agreement to head off large tax increases and sweeping spending cuts in the new year appeared to resume on Sunday afternoon after Republican senators withdrew a demand that any deal must include a new way of calculating inflation that would lower payments to beneficiary programs like Social Security and slow their growth.
Senate Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting to say they agreed with Democrats that the request -- which had temporarily brought talks to a standstill -- was not appropriate for a quick deal to avert the tax increases and spending cuts starting Jan. 1.
To hold the line against raising taxes on high-income households while fighting for cuts to Social Security was "not a winning hand," said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.
Imagine that. Republicans were, in effect, arguing, "We'll raise middle class taxes unless Democrats accept Social Security cuts." It would seem "not a winning hand" is an understatement.

But while the GOP's shift in posture helped keep the talks from collapsing entirely, the remaining areas of disagreement -- estate taxes, the sequester, extending jobless benefits, a debt-ceiling extension -- have not been, and may ultimately not be, resolved.

With this in mind, the stage has been set for an interesting Senate showdown tomorrow.

On the one hand, there are the ongoing efforts to reach a compromise. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had nothing more to offer Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), so the Republican has now begun negotiating with Vice President Biden.

If they can work something out -- what such an agreement might look like is hard to imagine at this point -- the bill would be brought to the Senate sometime after 11 a.m. tomorrow. And if it were to pass, the House would have a half-day, or perhaps a little less, to consider the agreement, bring to the floor, and vote on it.

On the other hand, if no Senate deal emerges, Reid will take President Obama's advice, bring the White House's original offer -- lower rates on income up to $250,000 and extended unemployment benefits -- and dare Senate Republicans to filibuster it.

And what about the House? Leaders in the lower chamber aren't saying much at this point, in large part because they have no idea what the Senate will do, but the House is already prepared to waive its three-day rule -- the measure intended to give members time to read a bill before voting on it -- and House Speaker John Boehner has already committed to both sides that he will bring to the floor any bill that passes the Senate.

We'll know a bit more by morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment