Fresh from its standoff on the fiscal cliff, Congress is getting ready to do battle again. At the heart of the new battle? A new fiscal cliff. YNN's Bill Carey says there is time, again, to avert a showdown - but little indication of any movement to do so.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The vote was heralded as an important step. A fiscal cliff had been avoided. Income tax rates, for most Americans, were locked in at their previous levels.
But when it came to decisions on spending cuts to avoid what were called disastrous, across the board reductions, the House and Senate made no decisions. They simply moved the deadline by two months.
A week and a half has passed since that decision. 10 days are already off the clock. And there is no sign of any new talks, let alone any deals.
Members of the House and Senate have been making the rounds back home, due to return to Washington on Monday. They admit the battle over taxes was fare easier to resolve than the spending decisions that lie ahead.
“It's easy to give people what they want. It's virtually...almost feels impossible to take away something that is people's expectation,” said Rep. Richard Hanna, (R) 22nd Congressional District.
The lawmakers say there should be common ground on just where the cuts should come.
“What we're hoping to do is, everybody who has an area of expertise, because of their committees, and figure out where to cut spending so you get rid of the more duplicative, less efficient or effective programs and preserve the ones that matter the most,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York.
“We're going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And we've more or less agreed that about half the cuts come from the defense side and half the cuts come from the non-defense side,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) New York.
But, in Washington, there are always complications. Republicans, who still hold a majority in the House, are discussing using a pending request to raise the federal debt ceiling as a way of forcing deeper spending cuts. Moderates within the party say that's a mistake.
“I won't be with them. I don't think you tinker with the full faith and credit of the United States. And, if you want to hurt the Middle Class, raise rates. Raise rates on every car, mortgage and student loan,” said Rep. Hanna.
There are some new faces in the House and Senate and some say that could make a difference.
“I'm not going to predict that we have success, but it would be foolish not to have hope because things do change with elections,” said Rep. Dan Maffei, (D) 24th Congressional District.
The new deadline for action is March 1st.