Earlier this afternoon, President Obama hosted a meeting with Congressional leaders on the “fiscal cliff,” and all sides subsequently articulated that it would now be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to hash out some sort of compromise. In theory, if they could agree to anything that could pass the Senate with bipartisan support, House Speaker John Boehner would bring it up for a vote, in which case the legislation would have to pass with a lot of Democratic votes making up for the Republican defections. This is how prior deals, including the one to debt ceiling and the other to avert a government shutdown, ultimately passed the House.
In a news conference this evening, mostly filled with his usual talking points, Obama described today’s meeting as “good and constructive.” But he also said that if Reid and McConnell couldn’t produce a deal, he would ask Reid to design a scaled down package and bring it up for a vote in the Senate.
The Hill’s Russell Berman notes on Twitter that the “timing laid out by party leaders suggests a final House vote on any agreement may not come until after 12/31.” Holding a vote on January 1 would have a certain logic to it. Financial markets would be closed, and it would make it easier to attract Republican votes, because taxes would have already gone up, and thus any deal would be considered a tax cut. Given this, perhaps you might see the bones of a deal announced by Sunday night to reassure markets, with votes scheduled for January 1.