Pressure increases on Senate for a deal
Some GOP senators back Obama’s call for agreement to forestall tax hikes.
WASHINGTON — With little more than a week for lawmakers to avert huge tax increases and spending cuts, attention is turning from the gridlocked House to the Senate, where some Republicans on Sunday endorsed President Barack Obama’s call for a partial deal to insulate most Americans from the tax increases but defer a resolution on spending.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Sen. Johnny Isakson, RGa., implored Senate leaders to reach an accommodation with Obama when Congress returns Thursday, even if that means that taxes would go up for those with high incomes but that spending cuts would be put off.
Hutchison, appearing on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” said the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush should be extended “at a reasonable salary level.”
“We can’t let taxes go up on working people in this country,” she said, backing Obama’s calls for a stripped-down temporary measure. “It is going to be a patch because, in four days, we can’t solve everything.”
The failed attempt Thursday by the House speaker, John Boehner, to attract enough Republican support for legislation that would have prevented tax increases on income below $1 million left little chance for a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction.
It also shifted the action to the Senate as the last hope to stop more than a half trillion dollars in tax increases and acrossthe-board spending cuts from kicking in on Jan. 1. The president urged senators to take up legislation extending the Bush-era tax cuts on income under $250,000 and preventing the expiration of unemployment benefits, while delaying the defense and domestic spending cuts to allow negotiations on a deficit deal continue.
“The fact that the House Republicans spent a week wasting time we didn’t have has greatly exacerbated the problem,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s communications director.
The hope is that the less polarized Senate will be different from the House. It is run by Democrats and includes several Republicans who are openly backing a deal.
“The president’s statement is right,” Isakson said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “No one wants taxes to go up on the middle class. I don’t want them to go up on anybody, but I’m not in the majority in the United States Senate, and he’s the president of the United States.”
Democratic leaders say they will move forward on legislation this week only if Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, can assure them that it will not be filibustered, and that once it is passed, Boehner will bring it to a vote in the House.
Investors are anticipating a turbulent week in the markets if the White House and Congress continue their standoff. Last Friday, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell nearly 1 percent as pessimism mounted over the prospect of any deal being reached.
By Becky Bohrer HONOLULU — Sen. Daniel Inouye was remembered Sunday as an American hero whose legacy as a war veteran and longtime senator would be felt across Hawaii for years to come.
The memorial service at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was attended by about 1,000 people, including President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hawaii’s congressional delegation and a number of other senators, Cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries.
“Daniel was the best senator among us all,” Reid told those assembled, adding later: “Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless.”
The cemetery, a beautiful site in an extinct volcano, is the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied JapaneseAmerican 442nd Regimental Combat Team — of which Inouye was a part — are buried at the site.
Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the
President Barack Obama stands at attention as the coffin bearing Daniel Inouye is carried into the cemetery for the memorial service.