WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" are offering a pessimistic assessment barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he's yet to receive a response to an offer he made on Saturday evening to Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Kentucky Republican says he's reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the impasse and a McConnell spokesman confirmed the two have spoken.
Reid says he's been trying to come up with a counteroffer but has been unable to do so. He says he's been in frequent contact with President Barack Obama, who in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" blamed Republicans for putting the nation's shaky economy at risk.
The pessimistic turn came as the House and Senate returned to the Capitol for a rare Sunday session. The fate of the negotiations remain in doubt before the beginning of a new year that would trigger across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that leaders in both parties have said they want to avoid.
178-w-29-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP correspondent, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.)--The Senate's top leaders are reporting a deadlock over last-minute talks to avoid the fiscal cliff. AP correspondent Sagar Meghani reports. (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *178 (12/30/12)>> 00:29
181-a-10-(Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in remarks)-"be able to"-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he does not have a response to GOP leader Mitch McConnell's offer. (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *181 (12/30/12)>> 00:10 "be able to"
182-a-10-(U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, delivering invocation before Sunday's session)-"with your wisdom"-U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black asks God to help Congress avert the fiscal cliff. (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *182 (12/30/12)>> 00:10 "with your wisdom"
180-a-10-(Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in remarks)-"about political gamesmanship"-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats have not responded to an offer he made last night. (30 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *180 (12/30/12)>> 00:10 "about political gamesmanship"