Pelosi: Dems don't want to go over the cliff

“I want you to be disabused of any notion that there's any widespread thought that it would be a good thing for our country for us to go over the cliff,” she said during a press conference in the Capitol. “We want an agreement. We want an agreement.”

Congress has returned to Washington this week to begin haggling in earnest over the long list of budget and spending issues – including looming defense cuts and the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates – that most lawmakers want to wrap up in the lame duck.

Some Democrats, however, maintain that they'd get the best deal if they show a willingness to extend the debate into January, thereby triggering some of those unpopular provisions.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage MORE (D-Wash.), for instance, said over the weekend that Democrats should delay the debate before accepting any deal that doesn't hike taxes on families with incomes above $250,000 per year.

“If the Republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we'll start over next year,” Murray said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program. “And whatever we do will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together. That may be the way to get past this.”

Pelosi placed the emphasis elsewhere, saying she “absolutely” wants a deal without broaching the possibility of going over the cliff. 

“We want an agreement, we want one … that is fair to middle-class Americans,” she said. “We'll make decisions about revenue, and we'll make decisions about cuts, to the extent that they promote growth.”

Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Friday for the first round of bipartisan talks over how to avoid the cliff.