News Column

House Called Back Into Session

Dec. 27, 2012
US Capitol behind barbed wire

The U.S. House will be called back into session Sunday to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff following finger-pointing by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

President Obama cut short his Hawaiian vacation and returned to Washington early Thursday. Shortly after his return, Reid, D-Nev., took to the Senate floor, lambasting House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for sending members of the House home for Christmas without a return schedule.

A short time later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., tweeted the House would be back into session Sunday night, little more than a day before Bush-era tax cuts and deep spending cuts are scheduled to kick in.

"The House will return for legislative business on Sunday, December 30. First votes are expected at 6:30 p.m.," Cantor said. He followed up, saying the House likely would be in session through Jan. 2.

Air Force One touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland outside of Washington Thursday morning.

White House officials told reporters late in the flight while in Hawaii, the president called the four congressional leaders: Boehner, Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Tenn.

Prospects for a deal, however, apparently were bleak.

Reid took to the House floor to criticize Boehner's handling of the issue and accused him of being more concerned about preserving his speakership than dealing with the issue.

Boehner said last week the ball is in Democrats' hands.

"What Obama has outlined as minimally acceptable to him doesn't come within a country mile of passing either the House or the Senate," a senior Republican aide told Politico of the president's latest proposal. "No negotiation can change the fundamentals."

"Unless Boehner and McConnell are willing to buck their Tea Party members, then I see nothing happening," a Democratic aide told the Washington newspaper.

House Republicans said Wednesday Reid must move forward a bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff or else he would be derelict in his duties, The Hill and Politico of Washington reported.

Boehner, Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said the Senate must either send the legislation to Obama as it reads currently or amend and return it to the House.

Reid predicted the country was headed over the fiscal cliff and began to pointedly blame Republicans.

"New Years Eve is fast approaching, and for decades and decades the American people have watched the ball drop in Times Square," Reid said. "But this year, Mr. President, the American people are waiting for the ball to drop but it's not going to be a good drop. Because Americans' taxes are approaching the wrong direction. Come the first of this year, Americans will have less income than they have today."

On the Senate floor, Reid blasted Boehner for sending members of the House back to their districts last week when he was forced to abandon his "Plan B" tax plan for lack of support.

Reid said even if Boehner agreed to have a vote extending the Bush tax rates for incomes up to $250,000 -- as Democrats are demanding -- legislation might not make it through Congress in time to prevent tax hikes from beginning next year.

The tax cuts, which have been extended several times, are to expire and coincide with across-the-board spending cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011, pushing the economy over the "fiscal cliff" economists say could throw the U.S. economy into recession.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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