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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

It’s likely nation is going over ‘fiscal cliff,’ but not yet certain

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein,Budgets and Deficits,Fiscal Cliff

There’s been a flood of stories definitively reporting that the House will not hold a “fiscal cliff” vote before midnight tonight, thus suggesting that the nation is officially heading over the cliff. Though this is now the most likely outcome, it is not official.

The reports were based on guidance from the House Majority Whip’s office that the “only” votes tonight would be on a few routine measures unrelated to the fiscal cliff.

But a senior leadership aide pushes back against the conclusion being drawn from this guidance, saying that additional votes could still theoretically take place tonight.

As I reported earlier, the House GOP was disinclined from holding a late New Year’s Eve vote, preferring to hold one during the day tomorrow if the Senate reaches a deal. But either way, any House action would be contingent on the Senate. And thus far, the Senate doesn’t have a deal that the House can act on.

“People – we don’t have anything to vote on before midnight,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, wrote on Twitter. “The House will take action after the Senate passes something.”

From the perspective of House Republicans, they’ve already passed two bills that would avert the fiscal cliff, so they have to wait for the Senate.

In all likelihood, given that it’s seven hours from midnight and there’s no final Senate deal, it means that the nation will go over the cliff — at least until tomorrow. But this isn’t necessarily certain.

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