Colorado lawmakers heading back to Washington, D.C. by Sunday night for potential fiscal cliff

President, Congressional leaders to meet on Friday

DENVER - Congressional members were given a 72-hour warning on Thursday afternoon to come back to Washington, D.C.

Republican House members were told during a conference call at 12:30 p.m. Denver time, while Democratic House members were alerted via a mass email shortly before 2 p.m.

7NEWS spoke with Rep. Ed Perlmutter less than an hour after he got that email.

"The House will return for legislative business on Sunday, December 30. First votes are expected at 6:30 p.m.," said Perlmutter, reading from the email.

Does this mean you'll be voting on the fiscal cliff Sunday night?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"I don't know," said Perlmutter. It just says votes will begin at 6:30 Sunday night."

"Besides voting, 'Yes or no,' do you have any input on the content?" asked Zelinger.

"We'll see the different pieces that I've suggested, if they get into the final bill," said Perlmutter.

He said he has emailed tax credit ideas to Democratic leaders, and even the White House.

Late Thursday afternoon, the White House revealed that President Barack Obama would meet on Friday with Congressional leaders from both parties and both chambers.

Minutes before that announcement, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman told 7NEWS that's exactly what he did not want to see happen.

"That it's not a negotiation process on behalf of leadership, but something that we, as the rank and file, on a bipartisan basis, can simply vote on," said Coffman. "The President needs to back away, (House Speaker Rep.) John Boehner, R-Ohio, needs to back away, (Senate Majority Leader Sen.) Harry Reid, D-Nevada, needs to back away and let us vote on stuff."

"Whether it's going to pass or not?" asked Zelinger.

"Whether it's going to pass or -- you know, they keep wanting to define the outcome," said Coffman. "We just need, I think, the three of them to back away to get it done."

Coffman was involved in the conference call for all House Republicans on Thursday afternoon. He said he was told to wait for the Senate to consider making changes to a fiscal cliff bill that had already passed the House earlier this year.

"What they need to do as a Senate is to take what we gave them and amend it however they want," said Coffman. "(Then,) let people like me offer amendments and let's just vote it up or down."

"Were you told the Senate is taking this up and you will have something to vote on?" asked Zelinger.

"No, we weren't," said Coffman.

Even though Coffman spent Christmas at home, he said he thought he should have been in Washington, D.C.

"I don't think anybody should have ever left and that probably would have motivated people to get this done," said Coffman.

Congress can make any legislation retroactive. 7NEWS asked if it even matters if no deal is made by the New Year, since the changes can be rolled back.

"It makes it more difficult the further you go because it's harder on employers and on people that are self-employed because they have to do their withholding and try and figure out what their withholding is, and that would change again," said Coffman.

"The trouble with that is, so many businesses and individuals have to make decisions. Many businesses have already figured out what their payroll expenses are going to be based on the fiscal cliff hitting," said Perlmutter.

The earliest lawmakers in the House could vote on a fiscal cliff bill would be 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

"If you get a bill Sunday and you haven't read it yet, is it appropriate to vote on it that same night?" asked Zelinger.

"That's a very good question, and we'll just have to see what comes," said Perlmutter.

"Is it appropriate to get a bill, potentially amend the bill and still vote on it by the end of the year? That's pretty fast," asked Zelinger.

"Oh, I believe so. Sure," said Coffman.

"Will people know what they're voting on?" asked Zelinger.

"Absolutely," said Coffman.

"I will likely have minutes or at the most, hours, to see what it is that the House is supposed to vote on," said Democratic Rep. Jared Polis. "It's a good sign that they called us back on Sunday, but it's a bad sign that only leaves us 48 hours. Frankly, they should have called us back right after Christmas and not even let us leave town for Christmas. They should have kept us right up through Christmas Eve."