WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.