Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he plans to send his chamber home for Christmas and then reconvene on Dec. 27 to try to work through the “fiscal cliff” — even as House Republicans said they’ll keep their troops in town to try to strike a deal.
The moves come as both sides jockey for the upper hand in trying to avoid blame for a possible breakdown in the budget talks to avoid the fiscal cliff. House Republicans are poised to pass a bill Thursday that would prevent spending cuts and most tax increases, and have said they’ll stay here to get a deal done. But there won’t be anyone on the other side of the table — at least not until next week.
“We want to be able to get home for a few days for Christmas, even though we will be back on the Thursday after Christmas,” Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said in opening the Senate’s session.
Senators will be attending a funeral service Friday for the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat and the chamber’s senior lawmaker, who died this week. Many also will attend his funeral services this weekend in Hawaii.
“I honor the legacy of Dan Inouye; I’m going to the memorial service; I’m going to the funeral,” Mr. Reid told reporters later.
Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said his lawmakers want to stay in town to try to get a deal done and will stay in Washington even if they pass their own “Plan B” approach to stave off tax increases and rewrite the looming $110 billion in spending cuts due in less than two weeks.
“We do not intend to send members home after this vote. We want to stay here. We want to avoid the fiscal cliff from happening,” Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters at a brief press conference. “I think the decision is for the White House and Senate Democrats to come join us so we can avoid the tax hike on the American people and avoid the fiscal cliff.”
But Mr. Reid said the House Republicans should forget about passing their bill and not bother sending the Senate anything, but instead go deal with President Obama.
“We’re here to reach out to our Republicans in the House and tell them, get back and start talking to the president,” Mr. Reid said.