"You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day," Obama told his radio audience. "The folks you sent here to serve should do the same. We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America's progress."
Obama spoke as Senate Democratic and Republican leaders work this weekend on a package that could be voted on as early as Monday. Any plan must also approved by the Republican-run House.
Tuesday, New Year's Day, marks the start of the fiscal cliff, a series of automatic tax increases and program cuts -- including defense -- that gradually take effect if the parties are unable to reach a new debt reduction agreement. The federal debt now exceeds $16 trillion.
If the Senate cannot strike a deal this weekend, Obama said in his radio speech he will ask the Senate to vote on a "basic package." That plan would maintain unemployment benefits and extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans except those who make more than $250,000 a year.
"I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities -- as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote," Obama said. "If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that's their prerogative. But they should let everyone vote."
In the Republican radio address, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the GOP wants to make sure that a debt reduction doesn't include tax increases that could hurt the economy.
"We still can avoid going over the fiscal cliff if the President and the Democrat-controlled Senate step forward this week and work with Republicans to solve this problem and solve it now," Blunt said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said they hope to have a plan ready when the Senate and House reconvene Sunday -- two days before New Year's Day and the fiscal cliff deadline. Reid hopes to have a vote on Monday.
(Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY)