President Barack Obama says "the hour for immediate action is here" on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
The president says he remains "optimistic" that an agreement can be reached in Congress before a looming year-end deadline to avoid tax increases and spending cuts.
If Congress can't reach a deal, the president says Congress should allow a vote on a basic package that would preserve tax cuts for middle-class Americans while extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and working toward a foundation for a broader deal.
The president says an hourlong meeting Friday with congressional leaders was "good and constructive."
Senate leaders say they hope to reach a compromise that could be presented to lawmakers by Sunday, little more than 24 hours before the deadline. (AP)
Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement after meeting with President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Leader McConnell and Leader Pelosi at the White House:
"We had a productive meeting at the White House, and I am hopeful that we will be able to avoid the fiscal cliff. At President Obama's request, I am readying a bill for a vote by Monday that will prevent a tax hike on middle-class families making up to $250,000, and that will include the additional, critical provisions outlined by President Obama. In the next twenty-four hours, I look forward to hearing any good-faith proposals Senator McConnell has for altering this bill."
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