House GOP leaders push Senate to act

House Republican leaders promised Wednesday that the lower chamber would consider any measures to avoid the "fiscal cliff," but first the Senate must pass something for their consideration.

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In a joint statement, top House Republicans struck a productive tone, vowing to contemplate whatever legislation the Senate approves, if the upper chamber is unwilling to take up prior measures passed by the House.

"If the Senate will not approve and send [House-passed bills] to the president to be signed into law in their current form, they must be amended and returned to the House. Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended, or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments," the statement read. "The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act."

The statement was issued by Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery MORE (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.) Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight Finance: Trump calls for ObamaCare mandate repeal, cuts to top tax rate | Trump to visit Capitol Hill in tax reform push | CBO can't do full score before vote | Bipartisan Senate bill would ease Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Regulation: Bipartisan Senate bill would curb Dodd-Frank rules | Opioid testing rule for transport workers finalized | Google faces state antitrust probe | Dems want investigation into FCC chief Trump to visit Capitol Hill amid tax-reform push MORE (R-Wash.).

Their move to increase pressure on the Senate comes as talks to avoid the fiscal cliff of looming tax increases and spending cuts are stalled after President Obama and lawmakers left Washington D.C. for the holidays. And it follows a Gallup poll that showed a strong increase in approval for Democrats in how they have handled the negotiations; BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJohn Feehery: A political forest fire Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery MORE's approval rating only rose 1 percent.

The Republican leaders pointed to a pair of bills passed by the House earlier this year, which would extend all the Bush-era tax rates across income levels as well as replace immediate defense cuts with cuts elsewhere, as options for the Senate to consider. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) and other Senate Democrats have already ruled out this approach.

The focus for coming up with some sort of fiscal-cliff compromise shifted to the Senate after Boehner failed to garner enough Republican support to advance his own alternative tax measure, dubbed "Plan B." That measure, which was also paired with legislation that would replace automatic defense cuts, would have extended lower tax cuts for all incomes under $1 million.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have argued that they too have passed legislation on the fiscal cliff, pointing to a Senate-passed bill that would have extended tax rates for incomes below $250,000.

With the standoff ongoing and days dwindling to address the fiscal cliff, House GOP leaders said they would continue to work on the issue, even as House lawmakers have yet to be summoned back to Washington. Members are to be given 48 hours notice, meaning a vote, if it occurs, wouldn't happen before the weekend. Senators are scheduled to be back on Thursday as is Obama.

"The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending," the statement read.