A frantic day in fiscal cliff negotiations has produced contradicting reports over a possible new offer from the White House and the news that the House of Representatives will reconvene unexpectedly on Sunday, hours before the nation is set to go over the cliff.
President Barack Obama reached out and provided Senate Republicans with another offer to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown wrote on his Facebook page. But CNBC and others quickly disputed that report, saying that Democrats and the White House were denying the report.
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid aide flatly denied Brown’s statements, responding “yes” when asked if Brown’s posts were false.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner has called the House back in session on Sunday — one day before the nation reaches the so-called fiscal cliff. The House will be in session at 6:30 p.m. — 29.5 hours before the deadline.
Brown’s initial Facebook post sparked speculation that Obama would send a bill to Senate Republicans as soon as today:
“I’m rushing to get on plane and thought I would keep you all informed,” Brown wrote.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Dana Bash reported that Obama told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would send him a “scaled-back” bill that would likely erase some, but not all, of the tax hikes scheduled to hit beginning Jan. 2. It would include extensions of Bush-era tax breaks for incomes of less than $250,000, the current estate tax rate, and unemployment insurance.
Shortly after Brown’s Facebook post and CNN’s report, CNBC’s John Harwood contradicted both:
Bash later amended her initial report, citing McConnell aides who told her that details of the plan — not a concrete bill — were expected to be sent to the Senate Minority Leader today.
Brown later tried to clarify his own statement in a Facebook post, saying it was based on an email sent from McConnell to GOP Senators earlier in the day:
Just an update. This AM I received an EM from leader McConnell letting the GOP members know that the President called him last night and would be giving him a proposal to avoid the cliff. I was excited and hopeful that upon our return to business tonight we would be able to review or discuss it.
The flurry came just hours after Reid slammed House Republicans on the Senate floor, saying that Boehner was running a “dictatorship” and preventing a deal from getting done. He warned that it “looked like” the U.S. would go over the fiscal cliff.
The White House said Thursday that Obama had spoken with McConnell and the other three Congressional leaders on Wednesday before leaving Hawaii and heading back to Washington, D.C. McConnell’s office said that it was the first call a Democrat had called him since Thanksgiving.