“The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted. Those bills await action by the Senate,” House GOP leaders said in their statement. “If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House. Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments. The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act. The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history.”
“The Senate has already rejected House Republicans’ tea party bills, and no further legislation can move through the Senate until Republicans drop their knee-jerk obstruction,” the Reid spokesman shot back shortly thereafter. “Right now, the Senate bill is the only bill that can become law, and House Republicans owe it to middle-class families to let it pass with Democratic and Republican votes.”
The intransigence of both sides has made a deal against the clock seem increasingly unlikely. But if anything gets brokered, it likely now has to come from the Senate, where Reid and McConnell largely negotiated the August 2011 debt deal that helped bring Congress into the situation it finds itself now. Senate Republican aides suggested McConnell might get involved in talks but that Senate Democrats have to bring something else to the table than the tax bill they’re pushing. McConnell could serve as a key figure in any solution, sources say, but whether his involvement is imminent or would only increase in a post-cliff scenario was not immediately clear.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.