And It's Biden in the Fiscal Cliff Home Stretch
With no fiscal cliff deal yet and mere hours away from the Jan. 1 deadline, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced early Sunday evening that the upper chamber will reconvene at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
"Roll call votes are possible tomorrow," the majority leader's office said in its schedule.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters on the Hill this afternoon that Republicans advanced a proposal last night and "there was an indication that we would have received that by ten o'clock this morning" -- but it hadn't been received.
But Thune indicated that the ever-obstinate Reid may not be as much of a factor in talks by this point.
"Senator [Mitch] McConnell and Vice President Biden are continuing to discuss this and we think there perhaps still could be a path forward," Thune said of the minority leader.
One sticking point appeared to be a chained consumer price index (CPI), an alternative measure of inflation. Democrats contend that will hit Social Security recipients.
"Chained CPI to us is not just about replacing the sequester today," Thune said. "It's putting in place a policy that will help save and protect Social Security in the long-term. But that being said, if Democrats don't accept that as an offset, then come up with something else."
Snippets floated out about the dollar figures on the table for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Reid was reportedly willing to make the threshold as high as $360,000 for individuals, and the GOP countered with an offer of $450,000 as the cutoff for tax hikes.
"The latest unacceptable Republican offer would mean more pain for the middle class, poor & seniors – and more giveaways to the wealthiest," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) tweeted.
"What [Reid] will more than likely do, if history is any guide in this, is take a bill and fill the amendment tree and prevent Republicans from having an opportunity to offer amendments," Thune said. "I think we would welcome the opportunity to have an open debate on the floor of the United States Senate that the American people could observe and be a part of."
Republican reactions with the Senate adjournment were anywhere from guarded to pessimistic.
"I'm incredibly disappointed we cannot seem to find common ground. I think we're going over the cliff," tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). "CPI has been taken off the table for the fiscal cliff negotiations. Should be part of entitlement reform package."
Republicans admitted that they didn't expect the chained CPI to be part of the deal but wanted to "start big," in the words of Lone Star State Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), going into last-minute negotiations.
Graham said the Democrats put forth a proposal that increased spending by $600 billion. "Revenues generated from higher taxes were spent and not one penny went toward deficit reduction," Graham said.
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