(WASHINGTON) — With only days to come up with a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, the White House said “congressional stupidity” was damaging the economy but that an agreement could be reached if Republican leaders don’t get in the way.
President Obama cut his Hawaiian vacation short and headed back to Washington on Wednesday while the Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said previously that he would give House members a 48-hour notice of any upcoming vote, which means that the soonest the House could consider a bill would be Saturday — just two days before a deadline to make a deal or trigger a rise in taxes and steep budget cuts.
Boehner and other GOP leaders issued a statement Wednesday following a conference call, saying: “The House has acted on two bills which collectively would avert the entire fiscal cliff if enacted. Those bills await action by the Senate. If the Senate will not approve and send them to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House.”
While Boehner put the onus on the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official used testy language to put the responsibility back on Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“What we need is for the Senate minority leader not to block a vote and for Boehner to allow a vote,” a White House official told ABC News. “The hits to our economy aren’t coming from outside factors, they’re coming from congressional stupidity.”
Reid’s plan would serve as a Democratic counterpart to Boehner’s plan B, which failed to gain enough support for a vote last week. Boehner left the ball in the Senate’s court after withdrawing his plan last Thursday.
Any plan from Reid is expected to include extending the Bush tax cuts for Americans making $250,000 or less.
This has been a sticking point for the left and the right throughout discussions. Democrats believe that lower-and middle-class families should keep the tax cut, while letting it expire for households making more than $250,000. Republicans counter that no Americans should be forced to pay higher taxes come Jan. 1, though Boehner’s plan would have required those making more than $1 million to lose the cut.
Reid could also propose cuts to tax deductions to generate more federal revenue.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Deirdre Walsh and Eugene Scott, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN