Reid: Fiscal talks continue but sides ‘still apart’ on key issues

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told colleagues Monday that negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” continue but leaders do not have a bill to bring to the floor yet.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Biden have come closer to reaching agreement on extending the Bush-era tax rates but differences remain.

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“There are a number of issues on which the two sides are still apart,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “But negotiations are continuing as I speak. We really are running out of time.”

Reid asked for cooperation from colleagues on both sides of the aisle to waive Senate procedural rules so a deal could receive a vote before midnight.

“Americans are threatened with a tax hike in just a few hours. I hope we can keep in mind our single-most important goal is to protect middle-class families,” Reid said.

Liberal Democrats are growing uneasy about a compromise that would extend tax rates for families making up to $500,000.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees said he would oppose any agreement that makes permanent tax rates for family income up to $450,000.

“This is one Democrat that doesn’t agree with that at all,” Harkin said. “What it looks like is it looks like all of the tax things are going to be made permanent but all of the other things that the middle class in America depend on is extended for one year, maybe two years.

“I think that’s grossly unfair. Grossly unfair,” he added.