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Congressional Dems Channel NYE Tradition, Roll Out Fiscal Cliff Ball

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- With the clock ticking toward Congress’ New Year’s Eve deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff, Democrats on Capitol Hill Friday hauled out a Times Square ball prop in the Senate park just steps away from the U.S. Capitol.

The message was clearly spelled out: "Don’t drop the ball on the middle class," signs said.

“Speaker Boehner, call the House back to work. Do it now. You don't have to wait till Sunday night,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD., said. “You don't have to try and run out the clock because the danger is that you actually run out the clock, and then the country goes over the fiscal cliff, but the ball drops on the middle class.”

“It's Republicans who are holding hostage the middle class in America so that the wealthy don't have to pay their fair share,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. “It's the Republicans who are willing to let millions of Americans who rely upon unemployment insurance to have that ended for them in just a few short days…And what we're here to say is that, first of all -- and I hope all of you agree with me -- no deal is better than a bad deal.”

“Senators, Congressmen,” Harkin noted, “we're not going to be hurt. We won't even feel it. But the people who are on unemployment insurance who are going to lose it, they're going to feel it. People on food stamps, they're going to feel it. People who are just marginally making it because they're minimum wage workers, they're going to feel it.”

The senator and congressman called on the House of Representatives to take up the Senate-passed bill which extends the tax rates to those making less than $250,000 a year.

“It's sitting in front of the House,” Harkin said of the bill. “They could -- they could have passed that a week ago or a month ago. They can still pass it to keep taxes from going up on the broad middle class. But they refuse to do so.”

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