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Monday
Nov262012

Fiscal Talks Turn as Tax Pledge Questioned

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The two-party tango that is negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" took a turn Monday as two more Republican lawmakers expressed willingness to break with a long-standing anti-tax pledge and the White House revealed that President Obama made fresh overtures to congressional leaders on both sides.

Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both indicated Monday that they feel no attachment to a pledge -- drafted by Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform -- to not raise tax revenue one cent. The pledge has long been viewed as a barrier to a "balanced" debt and deficit reduction deal.

On World News Monday, Norquist told ABC's Jonathan Karl the pledge -- even if a politician signed it 18 years ago like House Speaker John Boehner -- should be like a wedding vow.

Nearly every Republican in Congress has signed the pledge at some point in their career. But a growing number -- now five in the Senate and one in the House -- have said they would violate that pledge, so long as Democrats agree to changes in entitlement programs.

Meanwhile, the White House said Obama called House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the holiday weekend to discuss nascent negotiations over how to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a sweeping array of automatic tax hikes and deep cuts to government spending come Jan. 1.

For all the buzz about the "fiscal cliff" talks -- and optimism from both sides about reaching an agreement in the next 36 days -- negotiations have not gone very far even as officials close to the process say it's not that hard to strike a deal.

"We remain hopeful and optimistic that we can achieve a deal," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday when asked whether talks had reached an impasse. But he added, "I think that there are issues that need to be resolved."

Obama, Boehner, Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have no plans to meet in person this week, officials said. They first and last met at the White House on Nov. 16.

Democrats and Republicans have agreed in principal to increased tax revenue as part of a deal -- with some Republicans now willing to violate Norquist's pledge -- but one of the stickiest points of disagreement remains how to raise the revenue and from whom.

Obama insists income tax rates should rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000 -- the top two percent of Americans. Republicans remain staunchly opposed.

Boehner and other party leaders have said the same amount of revenue can be raised by closing loopholes and capping deductions, targeting higher-income earners, as a product of economic growth while decreasing net tax rates themselves.

"As we've seen in recent days, the American people support an approach that involves both major spending cuts and additional revenue via tax reform with lower tax rates," Boehner said in a statement, citing public opinion data from a Republican pollster that found a majority support the elimination of loopholes and deductions to raise revenue over increasing rates.

Both sides are relying on teams of negotiators to work behind the scenes to find common ground.

Obama has tapped Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as lead negotiator in the talks to avoid going over the "fiscal cliff," sources told ABC News. Other members of the White House economic team are said to play "leading roles," including chief of staff Jack Lew, National Economic Council director Gene Sperling and legislative affairs director Rob Nabors.

Republicans have not publicly designated a team of negotiators. But Boehner has begun meeting daily with key players in approving any future fiscal legislation -- Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Fred Upton, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential nominee who chairs the Budget Committee.

"We know what the parameters of a deal look like," Carney said. "We know what the substance beneath the parameters of the deal look like. And we are working, as we speak, with our counterparts on Capitol Hill to try to reach that goal."

Some Republican lawmakers echoed that sentiment Monday, arguing that the negotiations at hand are not as complicated or as nuanced as they may seem.

"We have plenty of time to make these decisions. It's just a matter of doing it. If we can do it in two or three weeks, candidly, they can be made in two to three days," Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said on MSNBC.

McConnell urged Obama to take the lead in the coming days. "The only person in America who can really make or break it is the president himself," he said. "He's the only one who can lead his party to do something they wouldn't ordinarily do, to do what's actually needed now, and that's why he's the one who has to present a plan for success."

Meanwhile, both sides of the tax spat continue to court key constituencies to help leverage popular support in their favor.

Boehner and House Republican leaders will meet with former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and members of the so-called 'Fix the Debt' coalition on Wednesday, his office said.

Senior administration officials continue to hold meetings with independent groups on support for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire on the wealthy. Lew, Sperling and OMB Director Jeff Zients met separately Monday with U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

Let the Liberal Pressure Begin: Union Ads Tell Dems Not to Cave on Cuts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Three major unions have joined forces to air ads pressuring Democrats to reject GOP demands as party leaders negotiate a way to sidestep the dreaded “fiscal cliff.”

Congress will return after Thanksgiving to hash out a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes in the hopes of averting what has also been referred to as “taxmageddon” -- a combination of the Bush tax cuts expiring and the budget “sequestration” that will enforce automatic, across-the-board cuts if Congress can’t find savings and revenues elsewhere. It’s the ultimatum Congress and President Obama gave themselves when they agreed to raise the federal debt limit in 2011.

With negotiations in their early phases, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and the National Education Association (NEA) have teamed up to air TV and radio ads pressuring moderate Senate Democrats to reject spending cuts and focus more heavily on tax hikes.

According to AFSCME, the ads are supported by a “sizable, six-figure ad buy.”

Ads like this are airing in Colorado, Missouri and Virginia. The ads target Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, D-Colo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Jim Webb and Mark Warner, D-Va. All five are considered moderates.

The unions are targeting four House members in three more states with radio ads: Pat Meehan, R-Pa., Mike Fitzpatrick, D-Pa., Don Young, R-Alaska and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov132012

Majority of Americans Skeptical a Deal Will Be Reached on ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Poll Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans don’t trust Republicans and Democrats to get along, it seems.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that 51 percent of Americans don’t believe a deal will reached between President Obama and Republicans in Congress regarding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect if there is no bargain. The poll found that 38 percent believe a deal will be reached, while 11 percent responded that they don’t know.

Republicans are more skeptical than Democrats, according to the poll. Among the 51 percent who doubt an agreement will be reached by the Jan. 1 deadline, 66 percent were Republicans, while only 40 percent were Democrats. And among those who believe that there will be a deal, just 25 percent were Republicans and 47 were Democrats.

Broadly speaking, the poll showed a general concern over the effects of the cliff. Sixty-eight percent of Americans said that they believe that going over the cliff will have a major effect on the U.S. economy, and 44 percent said that they believe it will have a major effect on their own personal finances.

The fiscal cliff is a combination of expiring tax breaks plus budget cuts that are set to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

John Boehner Welcomes Big Deficit Deal, Pledges to Work with President Obama

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- A day after holding onto his speakership and the House Republican majority, John Boehner signaled openness Wednesday to the inclusion of new tax revenue in a legislative package to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" as long as proceeds are linked to entitlement reform and spending cuts.

But the speaker also indicated that he still prefers to wait until the next session of Congress to enact an all-encompassing solution.

"If there is a mandate in yesterday's results, it is a mandate for us to find a way to work together on solutions to the challenges we face together as a nation," said Boehner, R-Ohio. "We can't keep setting the bar that low. It's time we raised the bar."

The fiscal cliff, which includes elements such as expiring tax cuts for the rich and middle class, $1 trillion in automatic cuts set to take effect next year, and a debt limit increase, remains the most daunting challenge for Congress during the lame-duck session, which begins Nov. 13.

Boehner said he hopes a bipartisan agreement would "signal to our economy, and to the world, that after years of punting on the major fiscal challenges we face, 2013 is going to be different."

"It would be an agreement that begins to pave the way for the long-term growth that is essential if we want to lift the cloud of debt hanging over our country," Boehner said. "It involves making real changes to the financial structure of entitlement programs, and reforming our tax code to curb special-interest loopholes and deductions. By working together and creating a fairer, simpler, cleaner tax code, we can give our country a stronger, healthier economy."

Fresh off his successful re-election bid, President Obama placed phone calls earlier Wednesday afternoon to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Boehner, to discuss the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. Obama made similar phone calls to Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Boehner said he told the president that the Republican majority in the House "stands ready to work" with him "to do what's best" for the country. Still, the speaker was clear that new revenue must be a "byproduct of a growing economy," and he emphasized that "to garner Republican support for new revenues, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up the entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our debt."

"We aren't seeking to impose our will on the president; we're asking him to make good on his 'balanced' approach," Boehner said. "A 'balanced' approach isn't balanced if it means higher tax rates on the small businesses that are key to getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving."

Beaming after Democrats added two members to their majority in the upper chamber Tuesday night, Reid urged Republicans to work with Democrats towards finding common ground as Congress prepares to address the conundrum of economic tasks looming during the lame-duck session of Congress.

"The election's over and we have enormous challenges ahead of us right here and we have to sit down and go to work on it now," Reid told reporters in the Capitol at a news conference earlier Wednesday afternoon. "We need Republicans to help us. Compromise is not a dirty word. I'm willing to negotiate anytime on any issue."

Reid said he also spoke with Boehner earlier Wednesday morning and the two leaders had a "pleasant" conversation.

Reid took issue with a reporter's question about whether voters preserving a divided Congress left Democrats with any leverage or momentum heading into negotiations.

"Your statement, things stayed the same, is about as far off-base as you could be," Reid said. "We had an overwhelming re-election of the president. We picked up seats in the Senate. We picked up seats in the House. That's not the status quo."

While Boehner has hinted he prefers a short-term solution during the lame-duck session, Reid expressed his inclination for a long-term deal, especially while $109 billion of sequester cuts, which are mandated by the Budget Control Act, are set to take effect Jan. 2.

"We're willing to work it out sooner rather than later," Reid said. "I'm not for kicking the can down the road. I think we've done that far too much."

"Waiting for a month, six weeks, six months -- that's not going to solve the problem," he added. "We know what needs to be done and so I think that we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done."

Wednesday, Boehner was adamant that lawmakers wait until the next session of Congress is seated to enact long-term, sweeping reforms.

"We won't solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight, in the midst of a lame-duck session of Congress, and we certainly won't solve it by simply raising tax rates or taking a plunge off the fiscal cliff," he said. "What we can do is avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a down payment on -- and a catalyst for -- major solutions, enacted in 2013, that begin to solve the problem."

At the conclusion of his statement, Boehner addressed his remarks directly to President Obama, imploring him to lead.

"Mr. President, this is your moment. We're ready to be led, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. We want you to lead -- not as a liberal or a conservative, but as the president of the United States of America," he said. "We want you to succeed. Let's challenge ourselves to find the common ground that has eluded us. Let's rise above the dysfunction, and do the right thing together for our country in a bipartisan way."

Boehner did not field any questions from reporters and did not specify how soon negotiations might begin, or what type of forum the debate would take place in.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Election 2012: Senate Democratic Majority Holds After Millions Spent

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats will maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate, ABC News projects, no small effort in an age of astronomically expensive campaigns and hyper-partisanship.

More than $1 billion is projected to have been spent in Senate races by candidates and outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But unlike in the 2010 and 2008 elections, neither party dramatically altered the balance of power in the Senate after this election.

Democrats defended 23 of the 33 seats in the Upper Chamber that were on the ballot in this election.

Several retirements in Maine, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia imperiled some historically Democratic and Republican seats but opened opportunities in others.

The Democrats' achievement was aided in no small part by several high-profile missteps on the part of Republican candidates.

Embattled Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri faced a serious challenge from Todd Akin until his candidacy was imperiled by his comments suggesting that the human body could terminate a pregnancy that resulted from "legitimate rape."

The comments arguably aided McCaskill by refocusing the attention on her challenger, who was urged to drop out of the race by Republicans immediately after his remarks.

ABC News projects that McCaskill has won that race.

And in Indiana, Tea Party Republicans and many members of the GOP establishment actively campaigned against their incumbent, Sen. Dick Lugar, and instead nominated the state's treasurer, Richard Mourdock, a candidate Democrats preferred.

Mourdock received the personal endorsement of Mitt Romney in an ad late in the election, but his campaign ran into trouble when he said in an October debate that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

The comments set off a firestorm of recriminations from Democrats, and quickly prompted an apology from Mourdock.

ABC News projects that the Democratic nominee Rep. Joe Donnelly will win the Indiana Senate seat.

The gain in Indiana helped offset the loss of an open Democratic seat in Nebraska to Republican Deb Fischer, according to ABC News projections.

In other races, the slog was long and difficult.

A highly anticipated Massachusetts contest between Democratic activist and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Scott Brown became one of the most expensive and closely watched races in the country.

Brown's seat became a target for Democrats who hoped to retake it after he won a special election after the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Brown, who ran and won in 2010 as a small-government conservative during a wave Tea Party-driven elections, ran a markedly more moderate race in 2012.

But returning to its blue-state roots, Massachusetts will elect Warren, ABC News projects.

In the current Congress, two independents caucus as Democrats. Angus King, who won the open Republican Senate seat in Maine as an independent, according to ABC News projections, has not said whether he will vote with the Democratic Party.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

Democrats Grab First Gubernatorial Wins in Vermont, Delaware

Offices of the Governors(NEW YORK) -- Democrats grabbed the first two gubernatorial wins of Election Day with victories in Vermont and Delaware, two states that ABC News projects will also go to President Obama.

In both states that were expected to remain blue, Democratic incumbents Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Gov. Peter Shumlin in Vermont were elected to second terms. In the presidential race, Obama picked up three electoral votes in both states.

Despite the early wins in the Democrats' column, Republicans are still aiming for a historic election night in governor races. Patrick McCrory was elected governor in North Carolina.

Eleven states are voting for governors this Election Day -- eight are still held by Democrats, three by Republicans. The GOP holds a total of 29 gubernatorial seats to the Democrats' 20. One state, Rhode Island, has an independent governor. If Republicans can grab four new seats, it will push their number to 33, the highest for the GOP in almost a century.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

Obama Campaign, Democrats Win in Ohio Early Vote Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(TOLEDO, Ohio) -- The Obama campaign has won a legal victory in Ohio that, like other recent decisions, should make it easier for voters to cast their ballots.

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Obama campaign and local Democratic National Committee officials who challenged Ohio’s early in-person voting system.

Friday’s ruling is the latest to favor Democrats in cases challenging voter restrictions in the weeks leading up to the election.

In 2011, the voting deadlines in Ohio were changed to allow only military and overseas voters to participate in early voting three days before the election.

Democrats -- who challenged the change -- argued that a significant number of Ohio voters would be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting.

On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Democrats. The court affirmed a lower court’s issuance of a preliminary injunction against the change in the law.

“While we readily acknowledge the need to provide military voters more time to vote,” the court ruled, “we see no corresponding justification for giving others less time.”

The court said it was returning discretion to local boards of elections to allow all Ohio voters to vote from Saturday, Nov. 3, through Monday, Nov. 5.

The court said, “The state must show that its decision to reduce the early voting time for non-military voters is justified by a ‘sufficiently weighty’ interest. The state has proposed no interest which would justify reducing the opportunity to vote by a considerable segment of the voting population.”

John Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, has argued in part that the reduced voting hours were necessary to address the needs of the Ohio elections board as it prepared for Election Day. The state also claimed that military service members and their families had unique challenges when it came to voting so that in-person early voting should be extended to them, but not to other Ohio voters.

Husted issued a statement Friday: “My office is reviewing today’s decision by the court as we determine the best course of action moving forward. … No action will be taken today or this weekend.”

Husted has the option of appealing the decision to the full panel of judges on the 6th Circuit.

An Obama campaign official, meanwhile, hailed the decision and touted it as the latest in a string of legal victories for the campaign involving voting rights.

“Ohio joins Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as states that turned back restrictions on voter access and limitations on voter participation,” Obama for America general counsel Bob Bauer said in a prepared statement. “The appellate court today affirmed the district court’s decision in ‘OFA v. Husted’ and held unanimously that every Ohioan should have equal access to early voting. As a result of this decision, every voter, including military, veterans, and overseas voters alongside all Ohioans, will have the same opportunity to vote early through the weekend and Monday before the election.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct032012

Lackluster Popularity Dogs the Political Parties, Poll Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s no party being a political party: The Democrats, while slightly more popular than unpopular, are near their record lows.  The Republicans are underwater.  And the Tea Party political movement has slipped to its weakest favorability on record in ABC News/Washington Post polls.

Those lackluster results indicate the public’s continued discontent, political and economic alike.  They also follow allegiance: The Democratic Party’s better rating reflects the fact that more Americans consider themselves Democrats than Republicans.

All told, 49 percent see the Democratic Party favorably, 42 percent unfavorably -- somewhat more positive than negative, but a far cry from its recent highs.  The GOP, whose allegiance has waned in the past decade, gets a negative score of 39-53 percent.  And just 32 percent see the Tea Party favorably, 9 points off its peak in spring 2010.

Self-identified Democrats and Republicans are broadly positive about their chosen parties, 89 and 84 percent favorable, respectively, in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.  Among independents, that plummets to about four in 10 for both parties.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE A PDF WITH FULL RESULTS, CHARTS AND TABLES ]

The difference is that 32 percent of Americans in this survey identify themselves as Democrats, vs. 25 percent as Republicans, levels that have held essentially steady the past three years.  That’s down for the GOP, which achieved parity with the Democrats in 2003 but has lost ground since.  (Independents now dominate, accounting for 39 percent in this survey.)

Intensity of sentiment is another challenge for the Republican Party: Substantially more Americans see it “strongly” negatively than strongly positively, 33 percent vs. 18 percent, while the Democratic Party breaks even (28 percent on both sides).

On the other hand, because fewer Democrats are registered to vote, the Democratic Party slips among registered voters to 48-46 percent, favorable-unfavorable, essentially an even split.  The GOP, though, remains underwater among registered voters, 42-53 percent.

The Democratic Party’s favorability rating, as noted, is very near its record lows -- 48 percent about a year ago and 47 percent in a 1984 survey -- and well down from its highs, including 58 percent in 2008, 64 percent in 2000 and 60 percent in 1996.  The GOP, similarly, is a mere 3 points from its own recent low in popularity, in June 2009, and far from its peak, 63 percent, last reached in 2002.

For its part, the Tea Party political movement has lost popularity; a record low 32 percent see it positively, down from a high of 41 percent in March 2010.  Forty-six percent now rate it negatively.

Part of that, though, reflects increased indecision.  Negative views of the Tea Party are lower than their peak, 52 percent, in January 2011; nearly a quarter instead now have no opinion of the movement, up 10 points in the same period.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep242012

Democrats Pounce on Romney Over Uninsured, ER Care

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- Democrats are seizing on a portion of Mitt Romney’s interview with 60 Minutes in which he cites hospital emergency rooms as a health care option for the uninsured -- a statement that contrasts with his longstanding opposition to such an approach because it’s widely known as the most expensive.

Here’s what Romney told Scott Pelley:

PELLEY:  Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?

ROMNEY:  Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.

PELLEY:  What’s the most expensive way to do it? In an emergency room?

ROMNEY:  Again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn’t take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, ‘You’ve got to take the Massachusetts model.’


A new Obama campaign web video released Monday afternoon suggests Romney has flip-flopped on the issue, criticizing him for appearing to favor a plan that would “lead to higher costs and leave more Americans without insurance.”

The video highlights Romney’s March 2010 appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe when he said he believes in universal health insurance coverage to reduce reliance on emergency rooms for care.

“Look, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way,” Romney said at the time.

The Democratic National Committee made Romney’s apparent “shift” on health care for the uninsured a new talking point on their two-day Ohio bus tour, with spokesman Brad Woodhouse noting “the man who created the model for health care reform has moved so extreme right that he says the uninsured should use the emergency room like it’s a doctor’s office.   We know this doesn’t work.”

In an email to ABC News, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg argued that the GOP nominee has not changed positions but was simply making “a statement of fact” in the 60 Minutes interview.

“Governor Romney made a statement of fact that Americans without health insurance are still able to receive critical care including in some cases through emergency rooms,” she said. “It is an absurd misreading of his comments to imply that he offered emergency rooms as a ‘solution’ to our nation’s health care challenges."

“As president, Mitt Romney will repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that strengthen our health care system making sure that every American, regardless of their health care needs, can find quality, affordable coverage,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep212012

Democrats Call on GOP to Postpone Six-Week Campaign Recess

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats protested a six-week recess that’s set to begin Friday, urging Speaker of the House John Boehner to reconsider allowing lawmakers to leave Washington for a final campaign blitz in their congressional districts.

Gathering on the steps of U.S. Capitol, Democratic representatives were “fired up” during the Friday morning photo opportunity -- blaming the lack of productivity on Congressional Republicans.

“Democrats are prepared to stay until we get the job done,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “That’s what we’re elected to do.”

Since lawmakers began a summer recess on Aug. 3, they have met on a total of eight days for legislative business, and won’t return until Nov. 14, after the election.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., complained that it is “simply irresponsible” to recess now because there is outstanding legislation, such as a farm bill set to expire on Sept. 30, the Violence Against Women Act, and a Democratic bill to extend the middle-income tax cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000.

“Shame on them,” Hoyer said. “Shame on them for abandoning our farmers, our economy and families who need us to act.”

Chanting in unison, ‘Work, work, work!’ at times, dozens of Democrats rallied behind Pelosi and the other party leaders.

“This is personal,” Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., said. “People back home cannot understand the work ethic of this Congress. They don’t understand why we’re not staying here to get the job done.”

“Throughout the entire 112th Congress, the Republican majority in the House have put their own political interest ahead of the interests of the American people,” Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., said. “We see a continuation of that this week.”

At a news conference a short time later, Speaker Boehner deflected criticism aimed at the House GOP, and suggested House Democrats should blame Senate Democrats.

“When you think about the letter that [the House Democratic leadership] sent to me [Thursday] about us doing our work, how about the 40 jobs bills that are sitting in the United States Senate?” Boehner asked rhetorically. “The House is the only body to have passed a bill to stop all of the coming tax hikes. We have done our work. But here, Senate Democrats and a president -- where is their responsibility? Where is their leadership? It just doesn’t exist.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio