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Congressional Leaders Invited to Oval Office for Fiscal Cliff Meeting

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Washington hasn’t taken much action lately to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, but lawmakers have been doing a lot of talking about it.  And more talk is scheduled for Friday.

President Obama has invited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the White House Friday afternoon for a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for Boehner says the speaker will stress at the meeting that “the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”

The White House announced the meeting after Senate Minority Leader McConnell called the budget situation "a mess" and urged the president to present a fresh proposal.

"I told the president I would be happy to look at whatever he proposes, but the truth is we're coming up against a hard deadline here, and as I said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago," McConnell said of his phone call with Obama Wednesday night.

McConnell added, "Republicans aren't about to write a blank check for anything Senate Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff."

"That having been said, we'll see what the president has to propose," the Republican Senate leader said.

On the Senate floor Thursday evening, McConnell said both sides of the aisle would review whatever the president proposes and “hopefully there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly preventable economic crisis.”

If nothing gets done, tax hikes affecting everyone in the country will take effect on Jan. 2.  There will also be automatic, drastic, across-the-board cuts to military and domestic programs.  Many economists say the tax hikes and cuts could push the country towards another recession.

A senior aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the House will return for legislative business on Sunday evening, which gives the lawmakers just barely enough time to reach a last-minute agreement.

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