August 31, 2014

Sen.-elect Fischer watches from sidelines during fiscal cliff debate (AUDIO)

As the United States Senate debates what to do to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Nebraska’s Senator-elect watches from the sidelines.

Last ditch negotiations are expected to continue through the weekend.

Senator-elect Deb Fischer has been to Washington a couple of times since her Election Night victory and says the talk there often turned to the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Right now, though, Fischer can only watch.

“As a citizen, I’m sitting back watching the news and get very frustrated when you don’t see too much taking place,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network. “But, I can tell you, a lot is taking place behind the scenes; a lot of negotiations going on.”

Fischer has been to Washington to go through orientation. She also has been hiring staff. Fischer will be sworn in as Nebraska’s newest senator on January 3rd.

Though Fischer favors cutting the federal budget, she opposes the sequestration that will take place unless Congress acts. Sequestration is the federal bureaucratic word given to the deep, automatic budget cuts that will take place January 1st unless Congress intervenes. Fischer says she objects to across-the-board budget cuts, preferring a more targeted approach to cutting federal spending.

Bush-era tax cuts also will expire December 31st unless Congress extends them.

President Obama has insisted that tax rates rise on wealthy Americans, first proposing that Bush-era tax cuts be extended only for those making less than $250,000 annually. He has compromised a bit, raising the threshold to $400,000.

House Speaker John Boehner, the main Republican leader negotiating with Obama, failed to gain enough votes for his so-called Plan B, allowing the Bush-era budget cuts to be extended for all, except those making $1 million or more. After the failure, the House left Washington for Christmas break.

The Senate plans to take up a measure this weekend in time to get it to the House Sunday evening. Boehner told Republicans in a conference call they should return to Washington this weekend. The House could extend its session through the 2nd of January, the day before the new Congress takes office.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]

AUDIO: Senator-elect Deb Fischer discusses the fiscal cliff negotiations with Brent Martin. [2:15]