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All eyes on them, Senate leaders seek fiscal deal

1:16 PM, Dec 29, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate leaders are rushing to assemble a last-ditch agreement to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly delay steep spending cuts in an urgent attempt to find common ground after weeks of postelection gridlock.

An impatient President Barack Obama is pressing top lawmakers to cut a deal, even one that falls short of the ambitions he and congressional leaders may once have harbored for a bigger deficit reduction package.

Following a White House meeting Friday among Obama and congressional leaders, aides to the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada began racing against the clock for a bipartisan bargain. Senators could vote on a plan as early as Sunday.

The deadline for avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff is year's end. 

Obama: Economy can't afford 'self-inflicted wound'

President Barack Obama is urging Congress to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, saying the nation "can't afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy."

Obama says in Saturday's radio and Internet address that he believes leaders in Congress may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses before taxes rise and spending cuts take effect at the end of the year.

He urges "Washington politics" to not get in the way of "America's progress."

In the Republican address, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt says "inaction shouldn't be an option" and the nation can avoid going over the fiscal cliff if Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate work with Republicans to solve the problem.

Associated Cliff

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