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Fri, 28 Dec 2012 13:03 - Updated Fri, 28 Dec 2012 13:03

US: Obama invites congressional leaders to 11th-hour ‘cliff’ talks


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Washington - President Barack Obama will meet Friday at the White House with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders in what could be a last-ditch effort to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that will see Americans' take-home pay plummet come Jan. 1.

The meeting, confirmed by the White House in a statement late Thursday, will also include Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Vice President Joe Biden was also to attend.

The announcement came after a day in which the leaders traded public barbs, each side insisting the other must act first to spare Americans across-the-board income-tax hikes and deep government  spending cuts that, together, could plunge the economy into a new recession. No compromise was evident, though Boehner called the House back to work on Sunday.

“Sen. McConnell has been invited to the White House tomorrow to further discuss the president’s proposals on the fiscal cliff. He is eager to hear from the president,” the Kentucky Republican lawmaker’s office said in a statement.

"Tomorrow, Speaker Boehner will attend a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, where he will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told reporters by email.

Obama stayed silent. He arrived at the White House on Thursday after leaving his family in Hawaii on their Christmas vacation to return to Washington, departing the island paradise after speaking by  telephone individually with the leaders he was to host on Friday.