No Deal In Sight As Deadline For Fiscal Cliff Nears

The debate over the "fiscal cliff" continues to take a partisan tone, with just days remaining before the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in.

On the Senate floor today, Democratic leader Harry Reid charged that House Speaker John Boehner "seems to care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on sound financial footing."

In response, a Boehner spokesman said Reid "should talk less and legislate more if he wants to avert the fiscal cliff."

Not long after Reid spoke, President Barack Obama's plane landed in suburban Maryland after a flight from Hawaii. The White House says the president made phone calls yesterday to Reid and Boehner, and to the House and Senate minority leaders, to get an update on efforts to avoid the cliff.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell's office says Obama's phone call was the first from a Democrat on the fiscal cliff since Thanksgiving.

The questions hanging over Washington today center on whether Reid will offer a specific piece of legislation, whether McConnell will let it proceed to a vote on the Senate floor -- and, if it were to pass, whether Boehner would then call House members back to Washington to vote on it. Chances of achieving that before the end of the year appear remote.

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The White House says President Barack Obama has made separate phone calls to congressional leaders to discuss the impending fiscal cliff.

A White House official says Obama called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi late Wednesday. The president made the calls before leaving his Hawaiian vacation for Washington, D.C.

The calls come amid little progress before the Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff. Americans face major tax increases and spending cuts if Congress and the White House fail to reach a compromise by the end of the year.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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