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Returning House Will Look to Senate for Fiscal Cliff Action

Boehner reiterated his insistence that the Senate act during a call with House GOP members Thursday afternoon. Noting the House passed legislation earlier this year that would extend all tax rates at current levels and replace the sequester with longer-range cuts to mandatory spending programs, Boehner said, “If the Senate will not approve these bills and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House,” according to a person who was on the call.

Boehner told GOP members that after the Senate has acted on the bills, “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 must act.”

Democrats, however, say Boehner is dragging out negotiations for political reasons.

“It’s obvious what’s going on,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on the floor Thursday. “He’s waiting until Jan. 3 to get re-elected to speaker because he has so many people over there that won’t follow what he wants. That’s obvious from the debacle that took place last week,” he said. He was referring to Boehner’s decision to pull legislation that would have extended tax cuts for most taxpayers but allowed rates to rise for those who earn more than $1 million per year. The legislation was withdrawn after it became clear it did not have enough GOP support to pass the House.

It’s unclear whether the House would approve legislation sent over by the Senate, since the details of such a bill are undetermined. Hoyer expressed confidence the House would pass a measure extending tax rates for individual income below $200,000 since, he said, almost every lawmaker wants to prevent a tax increase on “average, working Americans.”

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