Reid warns Senate may have to return after Christmas to finish deal

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned lawmakers Monday that the Senate might have to return after Christmas to resume work on a deficit-reduction deal.

“If things don’t change, it appears we’ll be coming back the day after Christmas to finish up work on the ‘fiscal cliff’ and other items,” Reid said Monday on the floor.

Lawmakers are working on a deficit deal to avoid the expiring Bush-era tax rates and sequestration cuts taking effect in January.

{mosads}President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been meeting regularly to come up with an agreement before the deadline. The two leaders met again Monday morning at the White House.

The latest meeting follows reports that Boehner has offered to raise tax rates on the wealthy and extend the debt limit by one year.

Both proposals are major concessions for the GOP leader, whose rank-and-file fear tax increases on any income bracket could harm job growth and seek to condition any debt-limit hike to significant spending cuts. 

Democrats want to extend Bush-era tax rates for only those making less than $250,000, while Republicans want an across-the-board extension and significantly reduced spending.

Reports said Obama rejected Boehner’s latest offering, claiming it did not offer enough tax revenues. But the speaker’s concessions and the continued meetings between Boehner and the president had been seen as a positive sign, after last week, when both parties expressed public dismay over the state of negotiations.
But Reid’s post-Christmas timetable, suggests that both sides still have many details to hammer out before an agreement is reached.

Reid also said the Senate would need to finish up work on a supplemental bill to fund Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and on a reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week before leaving for Christmas Day.

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