President Obama is planning to meet with congressional leaders tomorrow, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, for 11th-hour talks on a fiscal cliff deal.
It will be the first time all four House and Senate leaders will have sat down with the president to talk since Nov. 16.
It’s not likely to be a very cordial meeting, if McConnell’s anger on the Senate floor today was any indication.
“The president chose, instead, to spend his time on the campaign trail. This was even after he got re-elected. And congressional Democrats sat on their hands,” McConnell said. “Now, Republicans have bent over backwards. We stepped way, way out of our comfort zone. We wanted an agreement, but we had no takers. The phone never rang and so now here we are five days from the new year and we might finally start talking.”
“Here we are, once again, at the end of the year staring at a crisis we should have dealt with literally months ago. Make no mistake, the only reason Democrats have been trying to deflect attention on to me and my colleagues over the past few weeks is they don’t have a plan of their own that could get bipartisan support,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), also on the floor today, called House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) failed Plan B “the mother of all debacles.”
“It’s very clear now that the speaker’s number one goal is to get elected speaker on January 3. The House is not even here. He’s told me he will give them two days to get back here, 48 hours, not two days, 48 hours,” Reid charged. “They don’t even have enough of the leadership here to meet to talk about it. They have done it with conference calls. People are spread all over this country because the speaker basically is waiting for January 3.”
He further lamented that “you can’t legislate with yourself. We have nobody to work with, to compromise.”
“That’s what legislation is all about, is the ability to compromise. The Republicans in the House have left town. The negotiations between the president and the speaker have fallen apart, as they have for the last three-and-a-half years,” Reid said.
McConnell stressed that the GOP is not ready to “write a blank check or anything Senate Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff.”
“That having been said, we will see what the president has to propose. Members on both sides of the aisle will review it, and then we will decide how best to proceed,” he said. “Hopefully, there’s still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly, wholly preventable economic crisis.”
UPDATE: The White House confirmed that Obama will meet with McConnell, Reid, Boehner, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) behind closed doors in the Oval Office at 3 p.m. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend.