Legislators in Washington don't look terribly motivated to avoid fiscal calamity. There were precious few signs of progress in fiscal cliff negotiations yesterday, with both sides mainly making political statements blaming each other. Here's the latest:
- John Boehner, unable to pass even his own "Plan B," is now calling on the Senate to solve the problem. "The House will take action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act," he said, according to the New York Times.
- But Harry Reid points out that the Senate has already passed a bill that would prevent tax increases on all households making less than $250,000. "The Senate has already rejected House Republicans' Tea Party bills," he said, calling on Republicans to "drop their knee-jerk obstruction."
- Boehner hasn't called House members back to Washington yet, so though a session is scheduled for 2pm, it'll likely recess immediately. Senators are set to return this evening, but will have no proposal to consider.
- No Senate deal can pass without Mitch McConnell's approval, but a spokesman says neither Reid nor President Obama has reached out to him. The LA Times reports that McConnell helped devise Boehner's Plan B, but with re-election looming, McConnell is reluctant to get involved. "I cannot emphasize how little a constructive role he will play," says one Democratic strategist.
- Aides in both parties tell the Washington Post that the most logical step would be for Harry Reid to amend the House bill to let taxes rise for the wealthy and to extend unemployment benefits—without addressing the debt ceiling or making major spending cuts.
- President Obama will be back in Washington by noon, after a Hawaiian holiday vacation, according to the Hill. His aides have been in contact with Harry Reid's office in recent days, but their conversations haven't included Republicans, the AP reports.
- Democrats increasingly believe Republicans will wait to act until after Boehner is re-elected speaker on Jan. 3. "I think there's some chance that we get a deal done in the early weeks of January," one representative said yesterday, "which technically means you're going over the cliff."