To review, two weeks ago the House had passed a health care bill and the Senate had passed a health care bill. Leaders were discussing a compromise between the two versions that could then be voted on again by the House and the Senate. And negotiators were converging on a bill based largely on the Senate’s model, but with a few key modifications especially to the implementation of the tax on unusually expensive health insurance plans. Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts special election scrambled everything, but actually changes very little.
WASHINGTON — Senate leaders rushed to assemble a last-ditch agreement to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly delay steep spending cuts in an urgent attempt to find common ground after weeks of post-election gridlock.
The focus turned to the Senate after President Barack Obama held an hour-long, high-stakes meeting with the leaders of Congress on Friday afternoon to try to avoid the automatic austerity measures that begin to take effect Jan. 1 that threaten to send the economy sputtering into another recession.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader who has stayed largely outside the U.S. budget fight this year, will be thrust into prominence just five days before the deadline for tax increases and spending cuts.
WASHINGTON — The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the “fiscal cliff” offered a pessimistic assessment Sunday barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker.