Reid: Boehner standing in the way

WASHINGTON (AP) — Progress toward avoiding the "fiscal cliff" appears to be stalled -- with the Senate's top Democrat accusing House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) of standing in the way of a solution to the looming tax hikes and spending cuts.

Speaking on the Senate floor today, Harry Reid accused Boehner of appearing to "care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on sound financial footing."

Reid said the House could easily have passed a plan approved by the White House, with a majority of Democratic votes and a few dozen Republican votes. But House leaders generally avoid doing that, because they might alienate the Republican caucus and jeopardize the speaker's job.

Also today, the White House says President Barack Obama made phone calls to Boehner, Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before he left Hawaii for Washington yesterday. A statement says Obama got an update on the "fiscal negotiations," but it offered no detail on who is negotiating and whether the talks are getting anywhere.

As Obama flew back to Washington, even a stopgap solution seemed to be in doubt.

The House has passed a Republican plan to avert the fiscal cliff, and the Senate has passed a Democratic version. The deficit-cutting projections differ by hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years.

%@AP Links

138-v-30-(Jon Belmont, AP correspondent)--He's not back to working the room. But President Obama has been working the phones with the fiscal cliff deadline now just five days away. The AP's Jon Belmont reports. (27 Dec 2012)

<<CUT *138 (12/27/12)>> 00:30

139-a-09-(Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, in remarks)-"where we're headed"-When the Senate was gaveled back into session this morning following the Christmas break, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sounded grim about the financial outlook. (27 Dec 2012)

<<CUT *139 (12/27/12)>> 00:09 "where we're headed"

APPHOTO HICK107: President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac to board Air Force One at Honolulu Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in Honolulu, en route to Washington. With a yearend deadline looming before the economy goes off the so called fiscal cliff, the president is cutting short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (26 Dec 2012)

<<APPHOTO HICK107 (12/26/12)>>

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