McConnell reaches out to Biden, Reid steps back

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has appealed directly to Vice President Biden to try to break an impasse in negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff," as Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) steps back from talks.

On the Senate floor just after 2 p.m., McConnell said he had delivered Senate Democrats an offer at 7 p.m. Saturday, and had yet to hear back from them with a potential counter-offer. In hopes of reaching a last-minute deal, McConnell said he had reached out to Biden. “I was here all day yesterday,” McConnell noted as he spoke.

He added, “There’s no single issue that remains an impossible sticking point. The sticking point appears to be the willingness and interest or frankly the courage to close the deal. I want everyone to know, I’m willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner.”

Reid responded moments later by saying that he was not in a position to provide a counter-offer.

“The Republican leader has told me and he’s just said that he’s working with the vice president,” Reid said. “And he and the vice president, I wish them well. In the meantime, I will try to come up with something, but at this stage I don’t have a counter-offer to make. Perhaps as the day wears on, I will be able to. But I think the Republican leader has shown absolutely good faith.”

Update, 4:10 p.m.: Talks between McConnell and Biden have begun, according to Republicans leaving a mid-afternoon caucus meeting. McConnell excused himself from that meeting to take a call from Biden, and then returned a few minutes later.

Paul Kane contributed to this story.

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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