U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden worked overnight on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. But Monday morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid said “a number of issues” still divide Democrats and Republicans.
Just what’s in the agreement isn’t clear. Reporters aren’t the only ones in the dark.
Senator Barbara Boxer says only a couple of people really know what’s in the proposal. She says she's hearing "leaks about it, we’re hearing rumors about it, we don’t know if we’ll have the deal."
The Democrat from California says it’s important not to prejudge the package before anybody sees it. On the Senate floor, Boxer urged bipartisan discussion. "One party doesn’t run the show," she said. "It is shared responsibility. It is frustrating. It is difficult."
She pointed out the example of one bipartisan success in 2012: a two-year transportation bill hammered out with the GOP leader on her committee, James Inhofe of Oklahoma. "You couldn’t find two people more philosophically apart than we are."
Boxer – who spent a decade in the House – urged John Boehner to follow the example of former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neil, who understood that the magic number of 218 meant votes from either side of the aisle. She said Speaker Boehner, "who I know and like personally, but it seems like he doesn’t want to talk to the Democrats. Nothing is going to get done for our country if we don’t talk to each other."
Boxer said she was “cautiously optimistic” Congress will be able to find a deal that’s “fair enough” to avoid the cliff.