WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders agreed on Friday to make a final effort to prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff,” setting off intense bargaining over Americans’ tax rates as a New Year’s Eve deadline looms.
With only days left to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession, two Senate veterans will try to forge a deal that has eluded the White House and Congress for months.
Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” an agreement could be found. But neither side appeared to give much ground at a White House meeting of congressional leaders on Friday.
What they did agree on was to task Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, who heads the chamber’s Republican minority, with reaching a budget agreement by Sunday at the latest.