While President Obama’s No. 2 couldn’t prevent Washington from hurtling off the “fiscal cliff,” his deep ties to the Senate and trusted relationships with scores of Republicans may help engineer a softer landing later this week.
In fact, it was “Sheriff Joe” who came to the rescue when SenateGOP leaders were fed up with negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and months of discussions between Speaker John A. Boehner and the president had failed to produce a deal that could pass the House.
“Yesterday, after days of inaction, I came to the floor and noted we needed to act, but that I needed a dance partner,” Mr. McConnell said Monday in remarks on the Senate floor. “So I reached to the vice president in an effort to get things done.
“I’m happy to report that the effort has been a successful one and … we are very close to an agreement,” he added.
Late Monday afternoon, Republican senators were crediting Mr. Biden with negotiating in good faith and restarting serious talks.
“Things were completely stalled out until Sen. McConnell reached out to Biden and he stepped in,” said Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “It showed how fruitless and futile it was to continue dealing with the Senate majority leader.”
But Mr. Biden also got flack from liberal Democrats and outside pressure groups who said he should stick to the $250,000 income threshold that Mr. Obama had successfully campaigned on instead of agreeing to roll back taxes on households making $450,000 and below.
Late into New Year’s Eve, the late criticism from the left was still causing Mr. Biden headaches as he huddled with Senate Democrats to persuade them to declare victory on raising taxes and accept the higher threshold.
The meeting occurred just before Congressional leaders and the White House announced they had struck a final deal.
Even though the House was out of session and the country technically fell off the fiscal cliff, there’s still a little time left this week to prevent any serious damage. Congress can retroactively correct the tax hikes set to kick in Tuesday and also has one more day to stave off the automatic spending cuts that kick in Wednesday.
Mr. Biden’s political stock could soar after his role in striking such a critical bipartisan compromise, and in retrospect, could make his series of notorious first-term blunders and gaffes seem like small potatoes.
Cutting through the partisan rancor to get a deal could even boost his reported plans to seek his party’s nomination to succeed Mr. Obama in 2016.View Entire Story
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
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