An agreement to avert the fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts appeared "within sight," President Barack Obama said Monday, but lawmakers said nothing will pass Congress before a midnight deadline.
Senators were "very, very close" to a deal, having worked out an agreement on taxes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday afternoon. But the House of Representatives won't vote on any plans to avert the fiscal cliff on Monday, leaders have told members.
At the White House, Obama said the deal now on the table would prevent a tax increase for the overwhelming majority of Americans, extend the child tax and tuition credits for families as well as those for clean-energy companies, and extend unemployment benefits for 2 million people, Obama said.
But Obama did not sound hopeful a deal was imminent, saying he expected to remain at the White House for New Year's Eve as a midnight deadline neared.
"They are close, but they're not there yet," Obama said. "And one thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there is even one second left before you have to do what you're supposed to do, they will use that last second."