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Dec. 30, 2012 at 5:00 PM
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McConnell asks to deal with Biden on cliff

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Vice President Biden Sunday for help to move the stalled fiscal cliff talks.

On the Senate floor, McConnell said he asked the White House for help shortly after Democratic aides said talks between McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had struck a "major setback," The Washington Post reported. In turn, Reid said he withdrawing from the talks to allow McConnell and Biden to negotiate.

McConnell said he has received no Democratic response to an offer he made Saturday evening.

The minority leader said, "The sticking point appears to be the willingness and interest or frankly the courage to close the deal. I want everyone to know, I'm willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner." Democrats cited Republican proposals to cut Social Security payments.

Reid answered quickly he had spoken to President Obama several times Sunday morning, the Post reported, but could not provide a counter-offer.

Meanwhile, Biden returned to the White House Sunday from his Delaware home, though an aide refused to say why, Politico reported.

Bush-era tax cuts, which have been extended several times, are due to expire Jan. 1 at the same time across-the-board spending cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 take effect -- pushing the economy over the so-called fiscal cliff economists say could throw the U.S. economy into recession.

Both sides in the fiscal cliff debate predicted no one would be entirely satisfied by any deal the U.S. Congress hammers out in Washington.

Obama to push new gun-control laws in 2013

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said Sunday he will work to push new gun control measures in 2013 and called on Congress to reinstate the expired assault weapons ban.

"I'm going to be putting forward a package and I'm going to be putting my full weight behind it. I'm going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again," The Hill of Washington reported.

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adult staff members and wounded two at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Before the massacre, he killed his mother in their home, and killed himself afterward.

Vice President Joe Biden is leading a White House task force to draft proposals for presentation in January to help curb gun violence.

Obama said he would take a broad approach in addressing the role of violence in entertainment and focus on ways to improve mental healthcare.

Obama also called on Congress, saying he would meet with lawmakers of both parties, to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban and a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, the Hill reported.

Democrats favor Clinton in 2016 election

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she will not seek the presidency in 2016 although a majority of Democrats and independents said they would support her.

The results of a CNN/ORC International poll in Washington released Sunday showed 85 percent of Democrats and independents willing to back Clinton if she decides to run for president.

Ninety-three percent of Democratic women said Clinton likely would get their support, but only 79 percent of Democratic men said they would vote for her.

"Look, I'm flattered. I am honored. That is not in the future for me, but obviously I'm hoping that I'll get to cast my vote for a woman running for president of our country," Clinton said.

Two-thirds of Democrats said they were likely to support Vice President Joe Biden if he were to seek the presidency and 56 percent said they would be likely to support New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The poll results showed 59 percent of Republicans said they would support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the 2016 presidential race, and close behind him in the poll was Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

CNN's telephone poll was conducted by ORC International on Dec. 17-18, with 290 Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, and 290 Republicans and independents who lean Republican. The sampling error was plus or minus 6 percentage points.

White House urges same-sex marriage in Ill

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The White House said President Obama favored the legalization of same-sex marriage in his home state of Illinois.

Spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times the president contended it was wrong to bar loving couples of whatever persuasion from tying the knot.

"Were the president still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally," Inouye said.

The Legislature will take up the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in Springfield as early as this week, the Sun-Times said. The Democratic sponsors of the measure hope to get the act to a vote during the January lame-duck session.

The newspaper said the bill's passage would likely require support from some Republicans even though Democrats control both houses in Springfield.

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