Politics

Dec 30, 2012 5:04 PM by Monica Gouty

Senators back at work trying to avoid "fiscal cliff"

WASHINGTON (AP) - The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" are offering a pessimistic assessment barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he's yet to receive a response to an offer he made on Saturday evening to Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Kentucky Republican says he's reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the impasse and a McConnell spokesman confirmed the two have spoken.

Reid says he's been trying to come up with a counteroffer but has been unable to do so. He says he's been in frequent contact with President Barack Obama, who in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" blamed Republicans for putting the nation's shaky economy at risk.

The pessimistic turn came as the House and Senate returned to the Capitol for a rare Sunday session. The fate of the negotiations remain in doubt before the beginning of a new year that would trigger across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that leaders in both parties have said they want to avoid.

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