By Alexander Bolton - 12/01/10 05:54 PM EST
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that President Obama must reach a deal on extending the Bush tax cuts by Monday if a nuclear arms treaty has a chance of passing the Senate by the end of the year.
“The deal on taxes has to be done very early next week, like Monday,” Kyl said.
The emerging conventional wisdom has been that Senate Republicans would agree to ratify START if Obama and Democratic leaders agreed to a temporary extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
This legislative horse trade might not be possible because of the highly politicized debate surrounding the tax rates and the little time left in the lame-duck session.
“If the taxes all can’t be resolved and voted on and completed and spending for the government for the next 10 months completed by, like, next Monday, I don’t know how there’s enough time to complete START," Kyl said.
The continuing resolution to fund the government expires Friday, Dec. 3. Congress would have to pass a budget or another continuing resolution in order to keep the government running.
And Senate Republicans sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), saying they will block controversial legislation during the
lame-duck Congress until a deal on tax cuts is worked out. Every GOP senator signed the letter.
Kyl, the Senate Republican whip, has emerged as the lead GOP negotiator with the Obama administration over the treaty’s ratification.
He is also representing the Senate Republican conference in high-level talks with the administration about extending the Bush-era tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of December.
Kyl met for nearly an hour and forty-five minutes Wednesday morning with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, also attended the meeting.
The negotiators emerged from meeting in the offices of the Senate Finance Committee at about noon and declined to reveal any details of the talks.
“We had a very civil, constructive discussion, very much in the spirit of the meeting at the White House yesterday,” Geithner told reporters. “No surprises. We went through everything on the table and we agreed we’re going to come back this afternoon late in the day and continue the conversations.”
Geithner declined to say what items are “on the table for discussion.”
“We also agreed that it’s very important that we’re not going to characterize the discussions in the room,” Geithner said.
The negotiators plan to return to the talks at 5:30 Wednesday afternoon.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said earlier Wednesday the nuclear treaty would get ratified before the end of the year.
“The START Treaty will be done by Christmas," Gibbs said on CBS's "Early Show."