Update at 9:45 p.m. Deal Reached
Vice President Joe Biden was meeting late Monday with
Senate Democrats to brief them on a proposed deal to stop sharp tax
increases and spending cuts. A source told NPR the deal with
congressional Democratic and Republican leaders includes a mix of
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi have signed off on the agreement, which calls
for a two-month deferral of the automatic spending cuts known as
the sequester. The source says the cuts will be paid for half with
revenue and half with more targeted spending cuts.
The Senate may vote on the deal Monday night, but
there will be no vote in the House until Tuesday at the
Our original post:
Congress will not succeed in avoiding the "fiscal
cliff" before New Year's Day, as the Senate isn't likely to vote on
a potential deal until after midnight, and the House of
Representatives has adjourned until Tuesday.
The failure comes after lawmakers and the White House
spent weeks and months trying to work out a budget deal to avert
tax hikes and budget cuts that will kick in automatically in
The House adjourned just before 6:30 p.m. ET; the
chamber's next session will begin Tuesday at noon. A Senate vote on
a deal could still come Monday night or early Tuesday. After
meeting with other Republicans, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he
thinks "it's highly likely that some time this evening there'll be
a vote on the Senate side,"
writes Ed O'Keefe of The Washington
Corker said he and his fellow senators may vote on a
deal after midnight.
"I think they're attempting to get the legislative
language in order and vote on it tonight," he said, "you know, 1,
2, 3, 4 in the morning, whatever."
Any deal that is worked out would likely include
terms that make it apply retroactively to the time between midnight
tonight and the bill's enactment, NPR's Washington Editor Ron
Elving tells us.
multiple news reports that the key
provisions in the emerging deal include increases in income tax
rates for families earning more than $450,000 a year and
individuals who make more than $400,000. Other Americans' income
tax rates would remain unchanged.
House members would want time to read any bill the
Senate might offer, reports Reuters, citing "a Republican
leadership aide." The aide also says a delay would have only a
limited effect on the U.S. economy, as financial markets are closed
Tuesday for the New Year's Day holiday.
As NPR's Washington Desk reminds us, legislators on
Capitol Hill are also facing another deadline, and this one is
beyond their control: At 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday, the 112th Congress
will begin its final minute. Any budget crisis that lingers after
midnight and into Friday would be the problem of the next
News that the New Year's Eve deadline might pass
without Congress approving a deal follows comments by Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier Monday that "we are very,
very close" to reaching a deal.
President Obama said this afternoon that an agreement
to prevent most Americans' taxes from rising at midnight is "within
sight," but not yet done. An hour or so later, McConnell - the key
Republican in talks about the so-called fiscal cliff - agreed.
we've been reporting, there have been
signs today of progress in the talks - which are now being led by
Vice President Biden and McConnell. The so-called fiscal cliff is
the midnight arrival of automatic tax increases, automatic spending
cuts and the end of some unemployment benefits (all deadlines put
in place by lawmakers back in 2011 during previous
deficit-reduction and debt-ceiling negotiations).
Update at 7 p.m. ET. Senate May Vote Late
A deal may not come up for a vote in the Senate until after
midnight, says Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Update at 6:35 p.m. ET. House Adjourns Until
The House adjourned for the day just before 6:30 p.m. ET; its
next scheduled session begins at noon Tuesday.
Update at 5:15 p.m. ET. House In Limbo As Deadline
Just after 5 p.m. ET, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted that
Republican House Majority Whip Eric Cantor "has advised Members to
stay near Capitol in case of further votes," leaving open the
possibility that a vote may still come tonight. We've updated this
post to reflect that news.
Update at 4:15 p.m. ET. No Vote In
The House will not hold a vote to avoid the "fiscal cliff" on
Monday, Dec. 31 - the day before the first of the automatic budget
cuts and higher taxes are due to take effect, according to
reports.votes scheduled on a deal to ease the tax hikes and budget
cuts that are scheduled to kick in automatically in the new year.
The House is expected to adjourn for the day sometime before 6 p.m.
As we've been reporting, there are signs of progress in the
talks - which are now being led by Vice President Biden and Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The so-called fiscal cliff
is the midnight arrival of automatic tax increases, automatic
spending cuts and the end of some unemployment benefits (all
deadlines put in place by lawmakers back in 2011 during previous
deficit-reduction and debt-ceiling negotiations).
Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. McConnell Says "We Are Very,
Echoing many of the president's comments, McConnell just said
on the Senate floor that "we are very, very close" on taxes. "Let's
pass the tax relief portion now," he added, and "take what's been
agreed to and keep moving."
NPR's Scott Horsley reports that according to "people familiar
the negotiations," the key components of the emerging deal on taxes
are the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less
than $400,000 a year and couples earning more than $450,000. Income
above those levels would be taxed at a 39.6 percent rate.
Update at 1:55 p.m. ET. Can Accomplish Most Important
Toward the end of his comments, the president says the primary
goal of the talks now is to "stop taxes going up for middle class
families starting tomorrow." That is, he says, "a modest goal we
And he jokes that "if there's even one second left before you
have to do what you're supposed to do," members of Congress "will
use that last second."
Update at 1:52 p.m. ET. Another Hint About Solving
This In Steps:
The president talks about the automatic spending cuts set to
kick in at midnight and speaks in the future tense: "Any agreement
we have to deal with automatic spending cuts ... those also have to
be balanced. ... Revenues have to be part of the equation in
turning off the 'sequester.' "
Update at 1:48 p.m. ET. Solution "In
Hinting that there won't be a deal that covers every aspect of
the fiscal cliff, the president says "it may be we can do it in
Update at 1:46 p.m. ET. Agreement Is "Within Sight,"
But Not Done:
"I do need to talk about the progress that's being made in
Congress today," Obama says. An agreement is "within sight ... but
it's not done."
Update at 1:42 p.m. ET. Starting
A group of people - likely to be described by the White House
as Americans who would benefit from a deal to avoid going over the
"cliff," have gathered behind the podium from which the president
Update at 1:25 p.m. ET. Expect To Hear "Outlines" Of A
On the NPR broadcast, correspondent John Ydstie just said it's
now believed the president will announce the outlines of a deal. As
correspondent Julie Rovner added, the plan will still need to be
voted on in both the House and Senate. But John noted that Congress
could let provisions go into effect retroactively. That is, the
federal government might technically go over the "fiscal cliff,"
but be pulled back up later by legislation.
Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. Audio Of NPR's
We're embedding a player at the top of this post to stream
NPR's coverage of the president's comments. You can also hear it on
many NPR stations. Click here to find one near you.
Here's one of our earlier updates:
11:30 a.m. ET. Outlines Of A Deal On
The Wall Street Journal says:
"On taxes, one of the thorniest issues on the table, the two
sides appeared to be converging. President Barack Obama has called
for raising individual income-tax rates on family income above
$250,000. In the latest round of Senate talks, Republicans proposed
a $550,000 threshold, which Democrats moved to $450,000, according
to Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.)."
While Politico reports that:
"McConnell and Biden, who served in the Senate together for 23
years, are closing in on an agreement that would hike tax rates for
families who earn more than $450,000, and individuals who make more
than $400,000, according to sources familiar with talks. That would
mark significant concessions for both men, particularly for
McConnell. President Barack Obama campaigned on raising taxes for
families who make more than $250,000, but McConnell has long been
dead-set against any tax increases, warning they would jeopardize
As the Journal adds, though:
"Before noon on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.,
Nev.) said on the Senate floor that discussions continue, but he
also warned 'we really are running out of time,' adding that 'There
are a number of issues on which the two sides are still apart.'