Republicans in the US House of Representatives are resigned to seeing some sort of income tax increase in legislation to avoid a "fiscal cliff," but such efforts could be doomed in the absence of spending cuts, some Republican lawmakers say.
Congress and President Barack Obama are gearing up for a last-ditch attempt to avoid $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that could halt progress in the U.S. economy, which lately has been showing signs of gaining ground.
The White House said Obama will host a meeting on Friday with the four top congressional leaders - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Republicans have a majority in the House, while Obama's Democrats control the Senate.
House Speaker John Boehner informed his 241 Republican members on Thursday that the House would come back into session late on Sunday in anticipation of possible fiscal-cliff votes.
This Sunday's session "was about the only thing decided" during a half-hour conference call among House Republicans, said Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, who will leave the House at the year-end to join the Senate.
In an interview shortly after the phone call, Flake said Republicans in the House and Senate were resigned to seeing some sort of increase in top income-tax rates, although he did not specify a dollar threshold.
While he said he did not want to see any income tax rates go up, Flake said: "I've felt we should've moved a week or two ago to accept the top rate going up and tell the president 'congratulations.'"
The bigger problem in avoiding the fiscal cliff, Flake said, would be if Obama demanded cancellation of the $109 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin on Jan. 2 without alternative spending cuts to replace them.
"There will be resistance from a lot of House conservatives to a deal that does that," Flake said.
Asked if the days leading up to next Monday, Dec. 31 could thus be fruitless, Flake said, "That is what I am afraid of."
A Senate Democratic aide did not discount the possibility of some spending cuts being included in a limited bill to avert the fiscal cliff - even if they fell far short of the $1 trillion or so in cuts over 10 years that at one point was being discussed in talks between Boehner and Obama.
'TIRED OF WAITING'
Representative Tom Cole of