WASHINGTON - A Capitol Hill deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" is proving elusive as a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every American worker and block sweeping spending cuts grows perilously near.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell remain at odds on such key issues as the income threshold for higher tax rates and how to deal with inheritance taxes.
McConnell complained that Reid had yet to respond to a GOP offer made Saturday evening and reached out to Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend, in hopes of breaking the impasse. Biden has assumed the lead role for Democrats, and a McConnell spokesman says the Kentucky Republican and the vice president are expected to negotiate by telephone into the night.
Rank-and-file lawmakers left the Capitol Sunday night with hopes that their leaders would give them something to vote on when they returned Monday morning.