National News

Dec 29, 2012 4:14 PM by ASSOCIATED PRESS

Last-minute fiscal cliff talks in Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate leaders are groping for a last-minute compromise to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly prevent deep spending cuts at the dawn of the new year as President Barack Obama warned that failure could mean a "self-inflicted wound to the economy."

Obama chastised lawmakers in his weekly radio and Internet address for waiting until the last minute to try and avoid a "fiscal cliff." Yet he said there was still time for an agreement.

Senate Republicans say they're ready to compromise.

Even so, there's no guarantee of success.

In a blunt challenge to Republicans, Obama said that barring a bipartisan agreement, he expected both houses to vote on his own proposal to block tax increases on all but the wealthy and simultaneously preserve expiring unemployment benefits.

Following a White House meeting Friday among Obama and congressional leaders, aides to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began racing against the clock for a bipartisan bargain. The leaders could present legislation to senators as early as Sunday, with a vote possible on Sunday or Monday.

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