US poised to miss 'fiscal cliff' deadline, says senate leader
Mr Boehner and other House Republican leaders, who say they are willing to take up a "fiscal cliff" measure only after the Senate acts on one, were to hold a conference call with Republican House members today.
The expectation for the call was that lawmakers would be told to get back to Washington within 48 hours to consider anything the Senate might pass.
Weather permitting, that would bring them to Washington with perhaps three days left before the deadline for action. Storms affecting the Midwest, the South and the Northeast played havoc with airline schedules.
The House and Senate passed bills months ago reflecting their own sharply divergent positions on the expiring low tax rates, which went into effect during the administration of Republican former President George W. Bush.
Democrats want to allow the tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone.
"This isn't a one party or one house problem. This is (that) leaders in both parties in all branches of the government are not willing to make the deal that they know they have to make.
Everybody wants their stuff but doesn't want to give up what they don't want to give up," Republican US representative Steven LaTourette told CNN.
Congress has proven that it can act swiftly once an agreement is reached. Hope persisted that Republicans and Democrats might come up with a resolution before New Year's Day that could at least postpone the impact of the tax hikes and spending cuts while further discussions take place.
Another battle is just over the horizon in late January or early February over raising the debt ceiling, which puts a limit on the amount of money the US government can borrow to pay its debts and can be raised only with the approval of Congress.
Republican leaders have said they will insist on more budget cuts as a condition of raising the ceiling. Without any action, the US treasury said yesterday the government is set to reach its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on December 31st.
The treasury department is to begin "extraordinary measures" to buy time. Many analysts believe the government can stave the default date off into late February.