WASHINGTON (AP) — A Capitol Hill deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" is proving elusive as a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every American worker and block sweeping spending cuts grows perilously near.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell remain at odds on such key issues as the income threshold for higher tax rates and how to deal with inheritance taxes.
McConnell complained that Reid had yet to respond to a GOP offer made Saturday evening and reached out to Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend, in hopes of breaking the impasse. Biden has assumed the lead role for Democrats, and a McConnell spokesman says the Kentucky Republican and the vice president are expected to negotiate by telephone into the night.
Rank-and-file lawmakers left the Capitol Sunday night with hopes that their leaders would give them something to vote on when they returned Monday morning.
193-c-16-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP correspondent)--AP Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports a disagreement over Social Security is part of the hangup. (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *193 (12/30/12)>> 00:16
187-a-11-(Senator John Thune, R-S.D., with reporters)-"today or tomorrow"-Republican Senator John Thune says he's encouraged that Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is working with Vice President Biden to get the talks moving. ((longer version of cut in wrap)) (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *187 (12/30/12)>> 00:11 "today or tomorrow"
APPHOTO DCSA121: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to a closed-door GOP caucus as Congress meets to negotiate a legislative path to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that could kick in Jan. 1., at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (30 Dec 2012)
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APPHOTO DCSA116: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., followed by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., second from right, leaves the Senate chamber to meet with fellow Republicans in a closed-door session as the "fiscal cliff" negotiations continue at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. Leaders in the Senate and the House are under pressure to find a legislative path to head off the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (30 Dec 2012)
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APPHOTO DCSA105: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walks to a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats as he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., work to negotiate a legislative path to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. Senate and House leaders are rushing to assemble a last-ditch agreement to stave off middle-class tax increases and possibly delay steep spending cuts in an urgent attempt to find common ground after weeks of gridlock. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (30 Dec 2012)
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