GOP extends House schedule by a week for Fiscal Cliff Talks

Originally published: December 5, 2012
Updated: December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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The extension of the schedule seems to indicate more time is needed to negotiate a deal

gop leaders
December.5.2012 – 1:00PM EST – Washington — House Republicans announced Wednesday that the chamber will be in session the week of December 17, time that might be used to pass legislation related to the “fiscal cliff.”

“Though the House’s target adjournment set in October of last year was December 14th, that is no longer the case,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on the House floor.

“Instead, members are advised that the House will now be in session the week of December 17. Exact days will be announced next week.”

Cantor did not say specifically that he expects a fiscal cliff bill to be taken up that week, although the extension of the schedule seems to indicate more time is needed to negotiate a deal. Cantor also reminded members that the House will stay in session until the fiscal cliff is resolved.

“Members are further reminded that the House will not adjourn the 112th Congress until a credible solution to the fiscal cliff has been found,” he said.

“All options” on the table

A few dozen Republicans have joined a bipartisan call to break the impasse between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner over taxes for the highest- earning Americans.
The Republicans signed a letter calling for exploration of “all options” on taxes and entitlement programs, a signal that some rank-and-file members are ready to bargain.

One of the petition leaders, Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, says he could accept higher rates for married couples earning more than $500,000 a year, in exchange for an overhaul of spending on entitlements such as Medicare.

Separately, Representative Kay Granger of Texas is endorsing Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole’s call to extend all tax cuts for middle-class earners as “just the right thing to do.”

What unifies these lawmakers is a recognition that Obama’s re-election has strengthened his hand in negotiations aimed at averting more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January. The letter’s approximately 80 signers are half-Republican, half-Democratic, according to Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts.

“It’s pretty obvious Obama won the election, and he promised he was going to raise taxes on the wealthiest,” Simpson said in an interview. “What Republicans said is ‘ we’ve got to have entitlement reform.’”

Next 72 hours are critical

The House will adjourn Wednesday for the week, and return Tuesday. But Cantor also said that while the House originally planned to be in session Friday of next week, the House will now adjourn on Thursday.

Meeting with a business group on Wednesday, Obama renewed his call to include tax hikes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans as part of the final resolution, and to call for including an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.

House Republicans sounded a new tone of urgency over the “fiscal cliff” negotiations on Wednesday, with one party leader saying the “next 72 hours are critical” for President Obama to show he wants an agreement.

“We put an offer on the table. The president now has to engage,” the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), told reporters after a closed-door conference meeting. “I think the next 72 hours are critical. If he sits back and continues to play politics, that’ll give you the answer to where we’re going. This is an opportunity for the president.”

Sources: Moriches Daily Staff, The Hill Blogs

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