Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) addressed the Senate and blasted Speaker John Boehner for not ordering the House to return to Washington to deal with the fiscal cliff with just 5 days to go. The speech was televised live on cable. Meanwhile Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) Tweeted that Obama sent a new offer to Congress but both Reid and the White House denied it.
Reid pointed out that even if Boehner agreed to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill extending the Bush tax rates for incomes up to $250,000 it might not make it through Congress in time to prevent tax increases from beginning next year. “I have to be honest — I don’t know, time-wise, how it can happen now,” Reid said.
Referring to Boehner’s failed Plan “B” vote last week as a “debacle”, Reid said that Boehner wasted a week on that failed exercise. He said Boehner was more concerned about keeping his Speakership than avoiding tax increases on American families next week.
Reid said that if Boehner put the Senate-passed bill preserving the Bush tax cuts for all incomes under $250,000, it would pass. “All the Democrats would vote for it and many Republicans,” Reid said. He blasted Boehner for not allowing a vote.
“I don’t think the American people understand. The House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives,” Reid said. “It’s being run with the dictatorship of the Speaker not allowing the majority to get what they want. … He has made the decision not to have a vote on that because if he did, it would pass.”
Senator Reid brought the Senate back Thursday morning. President Obama cut his Christmas holiday short and returned to Washington today. However, the House remains on vacation. This indicates that Boehner and Republican leadership has no intention of avoiding the fiscal cliff. They do not want to vote for a tax increase even on incomes over $1 million. They have reneged on their constitutional obligation to govern.
When Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent the House home for the balance of the session, Boehner said that it was up to the Senate and President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff. That is ludicrous since any bill must pass both Houses in the same form before it can be sent to the President for signature. The Senate is working; the Republican led House is on vacation. So there is no way without the House the cliff can be avoided.
Senator Reid pointed out that Boehner needs to give House Members 48 hours notice to return to work. “If he sent the notice today, they would not be here until Saturday,” Reid said saying that three days is not enough time to pass a bill in both Houses with a possible conference committee.
Unfortunately this is they government voters gave us in 2010 when they gave the majority back to Republicans, and in 2012 when the kept them in power albeit by smaller numbers. In former times, divided government worked. In this new reality, divided government means obstruction by the minority not compromise.
Americans say in poll after poll they want compromise. What they are getting is one half of the Congress staying home rather than compromising. The results will be a tax increase on everyone and spending cuts, they previously enacted, that will likely put us back into recession.
There may be some movement today if the Senate acts on some new deal. That, of course, requires the votes of 60 Senators and one Republican can object thus blocking the bill. And, the House isn’t there to act.
So the best money is still on a ride over the cliff.
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