Printed on: December 27, 2012

Little progress is seen in discussion


WASHINGTON (AP) -- When it comes to the nation's budget challenges, congressional leaders are fond of saying dismissively they don't want to kick the can down the road.

But now, a deadline hard ahead, even derided half-measures are uncertain as President Barack Obama and lawmakers struggle to avert across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that comprise an economy-threatening fiscal cliff.

Congressional officials said Wednesday they knew of no significant strides toward a compromise over a long Christmas weekend, and no negotiations have been set.

After conferring on a conference call, House Republican leaders said they remain ready for talks and urged the Senate to consider a House-passed bill that extends all existing tax cuts, but gave no hint they intend to call lawmakers back into session unless the Senate first passes legislation.

"The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending," the leadership said in a statement.

A short while later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the House leadership should allow action on a Senate-passed bill that lets income tax rates rise only on incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.