Lawmakers are away from Washington and on the campaign trail, but that has not stopped Republican and Democratic leaders from waging a political battle over the fiscal cliff.
Monday's salvo came from House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, who warns in a statement: "We cannot avert another economic downturn unless the president and Senate Democrats stop their political posturing and work together with us."
McCarthy also said that the House has taken "bipartisan action to prevent our economy from going over the fiscal cliff." Asked what McCarthy meant by "bipartisan action," spokeswoman Erica Elliott referred to a vote to extend the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush that passed with 19 Democratic votes and the Sequester Transparency Act, which passed with 177 Democratic votes.
Last week, Democrats used a pair of pro forma sessions to argue that Congress should return to the Capitol to avert fiscal disaster. Rep. Henry Waxman of California took issue with fellow Californian McCarthy's point that it's the president and Senate Democrats who are holding things up.
"The House passing a bill does not produce a law," Waxman said on Friday. "That's just a way of giving an excuse to the American people that when their taxes go up, that we fought cuts. It does not satisfy anybody because it doesn't solve the problem."
This week, the House and Senate are holding pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also of California, is convening a Steering Committee hearing on Medicare that will focus, in part, on Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget and how it affects Medicare.