Biden, McConnell Close In on Last-Minute Deal

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By Jonathan Oh

WASHINGTON (ABC NEWS) -- Congressional and White House negotiators are closing in on a deal to avert across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that take effect at midnight, as the nation teeters on the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff.

An emerging tentative agreement would extend current tax rates for households making $450,000 or less; extend the estate tax at its current level of 35 percent for estates larger than $5 million; and prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hammering millions of middle-class workers, sources said.

The deal would also extend unemployment benefits set to expire Tuesday and avert a steep cut to Medicare payments for doctors.

Both sides also seem willing to delay by three months automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs, the sources said, setting the stage for continued fiscal debate in the next few months tied to the debt ceiling.

Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are leading the negotiations, sources said, holding several "good" conversations late into Sunday night and continuing a dialogue early this morning.

They are trying to broker an elusive compromise on taxes and spending that can win the support of bipartisan majorities in the Senate and House.

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