Obama calls lawmakers for talks in effort to reach fiscal cliff breakthrough
Washington: US President Barack Obama has arrived in Washington to address the fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
On his way back from Hawaii- -where he left the First Lady and two daughters Malia and Sasha behind --Obama call four Congressional leaders from Air Force One, the White House said.
The four Congressional leaders were the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner; House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While the White House provided no readout of the telephone calls placed by Obama, these were about the fiscal cliff wherein the US President is believed to have impressed upon the leaders of the US Congress on the urgency to reach a consensus on addressing the fiscal cliff issue before the December 31 deadline, in the absence of which taxes on majority of Americans would increase and the US would hit another economic recession.
"Last night, the President called Senator McConnell (the first Democrat to do so on the fiscal cliff since Thanksgiving) and other leaders to discuss the need for the Senate to act.
The Leader is happy to review what the President has in mind, but to date, the Democrat majority Senate has not put forward a plan. When they do, members on both sides of the aisle will review the legislation and make decisions on how best to proceed," McConnell's spokesman Don Stewart said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, in a statement on the Senate floor indicated that it is too late to avoid a fiscal cliff. "I have to be honest ? I don't know, time-wise, how it can happen now," Reid said as he blamed Boehner for this.
"[Boehner] should call them back today ? he shouldn't have let them go, in fact," Reid said.
The US Senate returned to work today after the Christmas vacation. The House is yet to do so.
"The House is operating without the House of Representatives. It's being run with the dictatorship of the Speaker not allowing the majority to get what they want... He has made the decision not to have a vote on that because if he did, it would pass," he said.
The House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, in a statement called on the House Republican leadership to call the House back into session to get to work.
"The House Democratic leadership is calling on the Republican leadership to come back to work and stop stonewalling every effort to get the job done, including making sure that taxes are not raised on tens of millions of middle class families," she said.
"The House Republican leadership has run out of excuses and out of time.
Their inaction continues to threaten middle class Americans with higher taxes," she alleged.
"With five days left before the fiscal cliff, Speaker Boehner should immediately call the House back into session to allow a vote on the Senate-passed middle class tax cut bill that the President has said he would sign immediately," Pelosi said.