Cantor warns of possible weekend votes next week

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday warned that the House may have to take some weekend votes at the end of next week on the fiscal cliff.

"Members are advised that due to the ongoing negotiations regarding the fiscal cliff, a weekend session is possible, and therefore last votes for the week are not yet known," Cantor said on the House floor.

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Cantor was talking about the end of the Dec. 17 week. He said the House will be in Monday-Friday next week, unlike the last several weeks in which the House has been in for less than a full week.

Cantor repeated his warning that the House will not leave this year until issues related to the fiscal cliff are resolved.

"As was announced last week and the week before, the House will not adjourn the 112th Congress until action has been taken to avert the fiscal cliff," he said. "Members are advised to retain flexibility in their travel schedules through the end of the year to the maximum extent possible."

Cantor made these remarks as part of his weekly discussion on the House floor with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). This week's discussion was similar to last week, as Hoyer tried to convince Cantor to allow a vote on the Senate's bill to extend the lower middle class tax rates.

Republicans have resisted this, in part because the issue of taxes and spending are the subject of ongoing negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House on how to avoid the worst of the fiscal cliff.

On Thursday, Hoyer asked Cantor to consider work on two bills — one that would extend middle class tax rates, and another extending lower rates on high-income earners. Hoyer said that would allow members to speak on both issues and move legislation to the Senate and the White House.

But Cantor indicated that Republicans have no interest in this path because it would only lead to a tax hike on the wealthy, which he said is responsible for a significant portion of U.S. job creation at small businesses.

"His proposal would leave the issue of increased taxes on small businesses making over $200,000 a year," Cantor said. "And if the concern is to try and focus on generating more jobs and helping heal the economy, I'd ask the gentleman in return, what is his suggestion about helping those businesses?

"Because as we know, the preponderance of the jobs created come from those small businesses, $200,000 and up."

Hoyer also repeated his charge that Republicans need to specify what upper income tax deductions they would take away as part of a fiscal cliff deal, while Cantor repeated his own charge that Democrats are refusing to be specific on what spending cuts they could accept.

"Where are the specifics on the other side of the ledger?" Cantor asked.

Hoyer replied that President Obama offered numerous cuts in his last budget  proposal. But Cantor shot back that the White House has not made it clear that it still agrees with those proposals, and that it has in fact backtracked from some of those cuts in the context of the fiscal cliff talks.

The two leaders continued the same fight in their discussion over the debt ceiling, where Hoyer asked Cantor whether Republicans would allow an increase in the ceiling, or whether they would use it as leverage to win more spending cuts. Hoyer warned that last year, that tactic resulted in a downgrade of U.S. government debt.

Cantor said Republicans remain committed to ensuring that a debt ceiling hike is accompanied by reduced spending. "We have got to gain some credibility on the spending issue and stop the spending," he said.

When Hoyer said he interprets that to mean the GOP will hold hostage the credit-worthiness of the United States, Cantor called that a mischaracterization.

"We feel that this White House has a tin ear in terms of the spending problem," he said. "And what we're saying is, we need some balance."

Updated at 1:17 p.m.

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