Obama talks with congressional leaders about ‘cliff’

President Obama spoke separately with each of the four congressional leaders late Wednesday as the Senate prepared to return to Washington for a last-ditch attempt to prevent the nation from going over the "fiscal cliff."

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Obama made calls from Hawaii to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Obama was seeking an update on the state of fiscal cliff talks, Brundage said, before departing on a late-night flight back to Washington. 

The White House provided no details about the conversations. The House is in recess pending action in Senate, and the Senate convened Thursday amid a sense of gloomy pessimism about chances for a deal to avert more than $500 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes set to hit in January. 

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in a statement: :The Leader is happy to review what the President has in mind, but to date, the Senate Democrat majority has not put forward a plan. When they do, members on both sides of the aisle will review the legislation and make decisions on how best to proceed."

Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.
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