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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Republicans Would Interrupt Recess, On Their Own Terms


House Republican leaders â€" on the verge of a month-long August recess â€" told Senate they stand ready to pull the House back into session to reach agreement on legislation to avert the expiration of tax cuts and the imposition of across-the-board defense cuts set to begin in January.

But they again declined to accept tax increases as a part of the solution, referring instead to “common sense spending cuts and reforms.”

“Congress must take action to eliminate both the threat to our economy posed by the looming small business tax hike and the threat to our security posed by the defense sequester,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and the three other top Republican leaders wrote. “By the end of this week, the Republican-led House will have acted to eliminate both threats. The Democratic-controlled Senate must follow suit. In the event the Senate takes action, we stand ready to bring the House back into session for the purpose of enacting solutions.”

Republicans in recent days have been raising alarms about the “fiscal cliff” next year, when $235 billion in tax cuts lapse and about $100 billion in automatic defense and domestic spending cuts kick in â€" trying to make sure Democrats get the blame if the nation goes over the cliff. The legislation that created the automatic spending cuts was passed last year with bipartisan support â€" including the votes of the Republican leadership â€" to resolve the impasse over raising the nation's borrowing limit. The Bush-era tax cuts were structured intentionally in 2001 and 2003 to expire all at once.

But House Republicans have passed legislation this year to stop the first year of defense cuts by shifting them to domestic programs. And on Wednesday, the House is expected to pass legislation extending all the Bush-era tax cuts for a year.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, has held firm , demanding that Republicans meet his terms for a deficit reduction deal that unwinds the defense cuts in part through tax increases on the rich.

“We can avoid these defense cuts tomorrow if Republicans have millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share,” Mr. Reid said Tuesday.