Biden comes to McConnell’s aid for a last-ditch deal

Updated
House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Vice President Joe Biden to step in and help broker a deal on the fiscal cliff. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/AP;...
House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Vice President Joe Biden to step in and help broker a deal on the fiscal cliff. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/AP;...

As the clock runs out for lawmakers to strike a deal on the fiscal cliff before the ball drops on New Year’s Day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on President Obama’s right-hand man, Vice President Joe Biden to help ease both parties into a solution.

Aides tell NBC News that McConnell called Biden at 12:45 a.m. early Sunday to “jump-start negotiations” through the night. The two spoke again at 6:30 this morning.

While on the Senate floor Sunday, McConnell said he was concerned by the lack of response from Democrats after he submitted his party’s latest offer in negotiations Saturday night. He pledged to call on Biden, his former Senate colleague of 23 years, to broker an agreement.

“The vice president and I have worked on solutions before, and I believe that we can again,” he said Sunday.

“I need a dance partner,” McConnell later said.

Choosing Biden as his dance partner appears to have been integral progress in negotiations, according to lawmakers.

The most recent offer on a compromise is to set a new income threshold at $450,000 for tax increases, up from President Obama’s initial $250,000 proposal. Republicans however, are seeking a threshold of $550,000, a concession far lower than House Speaker John Boehner’s offer of a $1 million threshold while retaining current estate tax rates.

And unlike the Bush-era cuts, these new provisions would be permanent and not given a “sunset provision” with a specified expiration date. If no deal is reached before Jan. 1, Americans of all income levels will ring in the new year with a tax hike.

“There are a number of issues in which the two sides are apart but negotiations are continuing as I speak,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor Monday morning.

And though lawmakers appear to be making progress in finding a compromise before the deadline just half a day away, aides from both parties have indicated that the overarching battle over deficit reduction is likely to continue through the new year, NBC News reports. Republicans have already dropped cuts to Social Security that would include the “chained CPI” measure of inflation on benefits as a part of the current offer, but say they would like to see the across-the-board sequester cuts in place for the next round of negotiations delayed for three months. Democrats are instead offering a two-year delay on the sequester.

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Biden comes to McConnell's aid for a last-ditch deal

Updated