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I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class. And I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that could pass both houses (of Congress) on time; Senators Reid and Connell are working on such an agreement as we speak.

But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring, to the floor, a basic package for an up-or-down vote — one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike; extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job; and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

– PRESIDENT OBAMA, updating the nation on the fiscal cliff talks.