— WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House pushed ahead Thursday with a bill that would raise taxes on people earning over $1 million a year as hopes faded for a pre-Christmas deal between President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff."
Democratic leaders vowed to let the House measure die in the Senate without a vote and urged Boehner to return to the negotiating table. As a grand bargain to avoid the fiscal cliff's automatic tax hikes and spending cuts proved elusive, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said lawmakers would return to the Capitol after the holiday to try again.
"The president and Boehner have to negotiate this, OK?" said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "We don't need a vehicle. We need an agreement."
Across the Capitol, Boehner accused Obama and his fellow Democrats of doing nothing to prevent the so-called cliff — sweeping tax hikes and spending cuts that hit in early January unless lawmakers head them off. But at the same time, he told reporters he would continue trying to strike a deal with the president.
"Our country faces serious challenges," said Boehner, R-Ohio. "The president and I in our respective roles have a responsibility to work together to get them resolved. I expect that we'll continue to work together."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the GOP has enough votes for a bill, dubbed "Plan B" by Boehner, aimed at upping the year-end pressure on Capitol Hill Democrats and Obama.
"We, as Republicans, have taken concrete actions to avoid the fiscal cliff," Cantor insisted at a news conference. He expressed confidence the GOP leadership will have enough votes to pass the bill.