(UPDATED) Latest on Fiscal Cliff: President Cuts Vacation Short, House Won’t Reconvene, and Now Reid Gives Up (and Uses the Word ‘Dictatorship’)
UPDATE — The House adjourns, won’t return until 2:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 31:
House of Representives convenes for 10 minute pro-forma session. Then adjourns till Monday at 2pm.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 27, 2012
Despite repeated assurances from U.S. lawmakers that they would do everything in their power to avert the so-called year-end “fiscal cliff,” congressional officials said Thursday they knew of no significant strides toward a compromise and no negotiations have been set.
In fact, it appears that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given up on all attempts to find a solution, saying Thursday that a lack of progress in bipartisan negotiations will most likely put the country over the “cliff.”
The Nevada Democrat says it’s up to congressional Republicans to come up with a plan that both houses would pass and President Barack Obama would sign. Reid says of missing the Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff, quote: “it looks like that’s where we’re headed.”
Sen. Reid also accused Speaker John Boehner of running a “dictatorship” by “not allowing the vast majority of the House of Representatives to get what they want.”
“They’ve done nothing,” Reid said of the GOP-controlled House. “The speaker has just a few days left to change his mind,” Reid said, but added: “I don’t know time wise how it will happen.”
After conferring on a conference call Wednesday, the House Republican leadership said they remain ready for talks, but gave no hint they intend to call lawmakers back into session unless the Senate first passes legislation.
“The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending,” the leadership said in a statement.
The Senate is due in session Thursday, although the immediate agenda includes legislation setting the rules for government surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists abroad, including Americans, as well as a measure providing $60 billion for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Meanwhile, President Obama decided to cut short his Hawaii vacation and took an overnight flight that brought him back to the White House on Thursday.
After weeks of negotiations, the president urged lawmakers to agree on a plan that calls for raising taxes on the “wealthiest Americans.”
“Everybody’s got to give a little bit in a sensible way,” he said at the White House.
The House has no plans to convene, following last week’s rebellion in which conservatives torpedoed Speaker John Boehner’s legislation to prevent scheduled tax increases on most, while letting them take effect on million-dollar wage earners.
“How we get there, God only knows,” the Ohio Republican said of efforts to protect the economy — and taxpayers — from the tax increases and spending cuts.
“We have a spending problem. We have to address it, And we’re not going to address it by kicking the can down the road,” the speaker said at a news conference late last week when he was asked about setting a vote on a plan that Democrats find acceptable.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image Getty Images.
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