US House of Representatives to reconvene Sunday

Friday 28 December 2012 07.12
US President Barack Obama returned to Washington after cutting short his Christmas holiday in Hawaii.
US President Barack Obama returned to Washington after cutting short his Christmas holiday in Hawaii.

The House of Representatives will return to Washington on Sunday night, just over a day before US income tax rates are set to spike higher, in a last-ditch chance to avert the year-end "fiscal cliff."

Senior Republican aides confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner told members to be back in Washington in time for a 6.30pm EST legislative session on Sunday.

The House may then stay in session until 2 January, the final day of the current Congress, according to a Twitter message from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

That is the day that another component of the "fiscal cliff" - $109 billion in automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs - is set to start.

The House went on recess a week ago amid a deadlock over how to resolve ways to avoid the $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that could throw the US economy back into recession.

Some media outlets reported that Mr Obama would meet with congressional leaders on Friday, but several congressional aides said no such meeting had yet been arranged.

If a meeting occurs, Mr Obama is not expected to offer a new "fiscal cliff" solution and he is instead likely to stick to the outline he set out a week ago for a stop-gap fix, according to a senior Democratic aide.

That would include legislation to shield most Americans from any income tax increase starting on 1 January, except for those households with net incomes above $250,000 a year.

Mr Obama also wants an extension of expiring benefits for the long-term unemployed.

So far, the Republicans who control the House have refused to go along with any measure that would raise income taxes on anyone.

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