No deal yet, as US teeters on fiscal cliff edge
WASHINGTON, United States of America - US Senate leader Harry Reid said Monday there was no deal yet to avert the $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts due to hit in just hours, despite overnight haggling over how to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff.
"There are a number of issues on which the two sides are still apart," Democratic Majority Leader Reid conceded, despite Vice President Joe Biden taking up a key role in negotiations with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Biden and McConnell, longtime friends who spent more than 20 years together in the Senate, spoke twice by telephone early Monday, McConnell's office said, but as yet have been unable to strike a New Year's Eve deal.
"Negotiations are continuing as I speak, but we really are running out of time," Reid said.
"Whether or not we reach an agreement in the short time we have left, we'll need cooperation on both sides to prevent taxes from going up tomorrow for every family in America."
Lawmakers were aiming to bring a bill to the Senate floor that would keep tax breaks on the books for middle-class Americans while letting those for the rich expire.
But there has been intense disagreement over the threshold at which taxes would rise, as well as other elements of a potential deal, including President Barack Obama's insistence on extending unemployment benefits and Republican demands for increased federal spending cuts. – Rappler.com