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.
As the deadline for the fiscal cliff looms, Congressional Representatives from Michigan are weighing in on the debate.
Congressman Dave Camp, R-Midland, says Republicans believe in a balanced plan that makes changes to tax code, cuts spending and makes strides towards a solution to the debt problem that faces our country.
"Republicans have demonstrated our commitment to achieving these goals on repeated occasions and have passed legislation that extends all current tax rates, sets a framework and pathway to comprehensive tax reform, and finds a smarter way to reduce spending than the blunt approach of the sequester," Congressman Camp said in a statement to 7&4 News.
Camp points the blame to the Democrats for "refusing to act" on the bills that are sitting in the Senate.
"We have done all of this while also seeking a bipartisan and balanced deal with the White House," Camp said. "Unfortunately, the White House had refused to deliver the 3:1 ration of spending cuts to tax revenue we were promised during the campaign."
Kyle Bonini, Communications Director for Congressman Dan Benishek, says the Congressman wants a solution that prevents Northern Michigan families from being hit with a massive tax hike in January.
"With the federal government borrowing over $40 cents of ever dollar it spends, Dr. Benishek favors significantly reducing federal spending to address America's debt crisis."
Bonini also points to the Senate for "refusing to act" on several bipartisan pieces of legislation that would "avert the so-called 'fiscal cliff".
Bonini says Dr. Benishek will return to Washington on Sunday and is hopeful that a serious plan is offered to reduce spending and "avoid families in Northern Michigan from having to see less money in their paychecks next month."
Brian Patrick, a spokesman for Congressman Huizenga, says the rush to meet deadline would not be the case if the Senate had moved more quickly.
"The House passed legislation to address the fiscal cliff in August. That was over four months ago and now Senator Reid and Democrats in Washington are claiming there isn't time to find a solution," Patrick said. "We've seen this happen before both with the Senate's failure to pass a budget and failure to hold a vote on more than 30 bipartisan jobs bills that passed the House."
Patrick says the problem is the hold up in the Senate.
"Washington is facing a crisis in leadership and once again Senate inaction will hurt middle class Michiganders." Patrick said.
President Obama met with congressional leaders in the White House today in search of a compromise that would avoid across-the-board tax increase and deep spending cuts.
The Associated Press says that while there was no guarantee of a compromise, Republicans and Democrats said privately elements of any agreement would likely include an extension of middle class tax cuts with increased rates for the wealthy as well as cancelling the scheduled spending cuts.
Before leaving for a family vacation in Hawaii, the president had called on lawmakers to pass scaled-down legislation that prevents tax increases for the middle class, raises rates at upper incomes and renews expiring unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
The president has also said that he supports a more widespread measure to include spending cuts to reduce deficits, but said they could wait, according to the Associated Press.
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