In remarks on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff was extremely close at hand, and outlined a procedural path to prevent all of the Bush tax cuts from expiring at midnight.
With all the tax provisions agreed to, but the parties still at odds over how to turn off or delay sequestration -- automatic defense and domestic spending cuts -- McConnell called on the Senate to address the former today and return to the spending issue early next year.
"I can report that we’ve reached an agreement on the all the tax issues," McConnell said. "As the President just said, the most important piece, the piece that has to be done now, is preventing the tax hikes.... So I agree, let’s pass the tax relief portion now. Let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving. Let me be clear: We will continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending, but let’s not let that hold up protecting Americans from the tax hike that will take place in about 10 hours."
Democrats and Republicans have been at odds over whether and how to turn off the sequester, at least temporarily. Democrats want to delay the sequester by a year, and cover the cost with a mix of spending cuts and tax revenue. Republicans want any sequester delay fully financed with cuts to domestic spending programs.