The PJ Tatler

Fiscal Cliff, the 11th Hour: GOP Says Dems Can Amend House Bills If They Like

Freshly returned from their holiday eggnog, the 11th hour crunch to come up with a deal to avoid plunging over the fiscal cliff began with push, shove, and more push.

The House meets in pro forma session today; the Senate is already in debate, but on FISA reauthorization.

“The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted. Those bills await action by the Senate,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a joint statement.

“If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House. Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended, or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments,” they continued.

“The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act. 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.”

In response, from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office:

“House Republicans pushed middle class families closer to the cliff by wasting an entire week with their incompetent ‘Plan B’ stunt. It is time for House Republicans to put middle class families first by passing the Senate’s bill to protect 98 percent of Americans from a tax hike on January 1. The Senate bill could pass tomorrow if House Republicans would simply let it come to the floor,” spokesman Adam Jentleson said.

“The Senate has already rejected House Republicans’ Tea Party bills, and no further legislation can move through the Senate until Republicans drop their knee-jerk obstruction. Right now, the Senate bill is the only bill that can become law, and House Republicans owe it to middle class families to let it pass with Democratic and Republican votes.”

Reid has just canceled a press conference today.

He did make a floor speech, though, in which he warned that the fiscal cliff likelihood is greater. “It looks like that is where we’re headed,” Reid said.