Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said a resolution to the U.S. budget dispute before Jan. 1 appears unlikely because Republicans won’t cooperate.
“I don’t know time-wise how it can happen now,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said on the Senate floor today. He blamed House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans.
“Democrats can’t put together a plan on their own because without participation of Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner nothing can happen on the fiscal cliff. And so far, they are radio silent,” Reid said.
If Congress doesn’t act, more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts for 2013 will start taking effect in January.
President Barack Obama spoke yesterday with Reid, Boehner, McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, to receive an update on the negotiations, said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman. Obama returns from Hawaii today.
The Senate has a vote on an unrelated issue scheduled for today. House members aren’t in Washington; Republicans are scheduled to hold a conference call later today.
“We are here in Washington working while the members of the House of Representatives are out watching movies and watching their kids play soccer and basketball and do all kinds of things,” Reid said.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a message posted today on Twitter that the speaker “told the president yesterday that the Senate must now act. The House has already done so to avert the entire fiscal cliff.”
The House passed a bill in August extending the expiring tax cuts for all income levels and another bill Dec. 20 replacing the automatic spending cuts with other reductions. The House hasn’t addressed some expiring provisions, including a scheduled pay cut to doctors under Medicare and expanded unemployment insurance.
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