Biden Basks in Glow of Successful ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Negotiations
(WASHINGTON) -- For Vice President Biden, the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 was a chance for him to ride to the rescue again by using his 36-year career in the Senate and relationships on both sides of the aisle to broker a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
As the progress to reach a deal stalled in the Senate with just over 24 hours until the deadline, the vice president was called in to lend a hand in helping "jumpstart the negotiations," as described by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
And at least one person attributes the eventual success of the fiscal cliff talks to Biden, the former Delaware senator.
As Biden departed from a meeting with Senate Democrats late Monday evening, the vice president was asked what made the difference in the negotiations.
"Me," Biden said with a smile.
McConnell reached out to Biden Sunday afternoon after he was unable to negotiate with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Biden and McConnell, whose relationship dates back to the 24 years they served alongside each other in the Senate, held late-night and early-morning phone calls on Sunday and Monday morning as they hammered out a compromise before New Year's Eve end.
In the span of 14 hours, Biden went twice to Capitol Hill to sell the brokered deal to Democrats. He first met with Senate Democrats late on New Year's Eve and returned to the Hill on New Year's Day to speak with Democrats on the House side.
The bill crafted by Biden and McConnell received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate with a vote of 89-8, and was passed by a vote of 257-167 in the House Tuesday evening.
The fiscal cliff deal adds to the list of the vice president's successful negotiations with McConnell. In 2010, he worked with the minority leader to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, and in the summer of 2011, they worked together to negotiate a plan to raise the nation's debt limit.
But before Congress and the White House came to an agreement in 2011, the debt ceiling package also experienced a few fumbles. Biden was tasked with leading a debt ceiling panel comprised of members of both parties, but the talks broke down when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, decided to step away from the conversations. Biden and McConnell helped negotiate a plan just days before a potential default.
Biden appeared alongside President Obama late Tuesday evening as the president praised the cliff deal, calling the vice president "extraordinary" for his help in negotiating the package.
The vice president is expected to use his knack for compromise in the coming months as he spearheads efforts to craft gun policy with White House cabinet members and outside groups in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Speaking to reporters the day after winning the election, the vice president predicted the role he'd play in his second term as vice president.
"I think I'll probably be asked to play a similar role on the debt issue that we did last time. I think my reaching out to the Congress, the Senate," Biden told reporters aboard Air Force Two the day after the election. "I also know I'll be doing a lot of foreign policy, so it will be whatever the issue of the day is. Like I told him the first time, I only want those assignments that have a 'sell by' date."
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