By: Kayla Bremer
The deadline for the fiscal cliff is near and they still haven't reached an agreement.
Thirty days is all that remains before tax hikes and budget cuts are set to take effect nationwide unless Congress and the White House make an agreement.
650 billion dollars...that's the amount in budget cuts plus tax increases that will automatically go into effect if no action is taken by December 31st.
The White House wants higher tax rates for higher–income Americans while GOP members of Congress want to block the tax increase.
U.S. Senator Mike Johanns spoke with us about the importance of reaching an agreement. The Republican says he hopes legislation will be drafted in the next week or so.
"There's just simply a point in which you run into the deadline and then I think a lot of bad things happen," Johanns said.
Johanns says in a perfect world, an agreement would be reached by December 21st...right before the holidays. But he says they're prepared to work right through if it comes down to it.
"If we have to stay there right through Christmas, if we have to stay there until New Year's Eve to get this done, we should. It's that important. And my hope is this year we don't pay a lot of attention to the holidays."
The so–called "fiscal cliff" would cost an average American family of four an additional $2,200 in taxes a year.
Johanns says he thinks we should take more time and use 2013 to reform entitlements and the tax code and look at the fairness of the tax system.
"I think we need an interim step where we just protect people from the downside of the fiscal cliff and then we set aside 2013 to work with our committees to bring legislation forward to do those things."
We tried to speak with Senator Ben Nelson on the issue but he was at an event and was unavailable for comment.
By: Megan Palera
Senator Mike Johanns is prepared to work through the holidays to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
The Senator stopped by our studio Friday to talk about the gridlock in Congress. Everyone's taxes are set to go up in just over a month if Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal.
The Republican hopes legislation will be drafted in the next week or so.
"If we have to stay there right through Christmas, if we have to stay there until New Year's Eve to get this done, we should. It's that important. And my hope is this year we don't pay a lot of attention to the holidays," Johanns said.
Johanns recently launched a page on his senate web site with information about the fiscal cliff and a comment form.