The top congressionial Republican called Friday
on President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to act to avert the
looming "fiscal cliff", just hours after he was forced to pull his
own "Plan B" proposal from consideration before a vote.
"The House did not take up the tax bill last night because we didn't have the votes to pass it. It's not the outcome that I wanted, but that was the will of the House," Speaker of the House John Boehner said.
"So unless the president and Congress take action, tax rates will go up on every American taxpayer and devastating defence cuts will go into effect in 10 days," he said, referring to the so-called fiscal cliff.
He said Republicans would continue to work with lawmakers in both chambers to avert that situation, and stressed he was not walking away from talks with Obama.
"We've got differences, but the country's got big spending problems, and we've got to get serious about addressing it," he said.
Boehner said action is possible on a bill passed by Congress, the lower chamber controlled by the Republicans, over the summer that would maintain the status quo of tax cuts for all Americans as well as a separate plan to avert harsh spending cuts.
He said the upper chamber, the Senate controlled by Democrats, had ignored those proposals.
Instead, Boehner and Obama have for weeks argued back and forth over a package that would replace the severe austerity measures due to take effect after year's end with a more gradual package of tax increases and spending cuts.
Late Thursday, Boehner was unexpectedly forced to withdraw his "Plan B" bill, which would have raised taxes only on those making more than 1 million dollars per year.
The move was an abrupt and embarassing setback. It put already stalled budget talks into a deeper chill and propelled the country faster toward the fiscal cliff that looms on December 31.
He said Friday some of his fellow Republicans were concerned they would be seen as voting to increase taxes if they supported the proposal.
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