In a closed-door meeting, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Republicans to expect to stick around until Christmas Eve and then between Christmas and New Year's Day. Afterward, he told reporters that President Barack Obama is heading "ever so slowly to the cliff."
"We've said we're committed to staying here, we're going to stay here right up until Christmas eve, throughout the time and period before the new year, because we want to make sure we resolve this in an acceptable way for the American people," Cantor said.
On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged there's been little progress toward a deal. The GOP's refusal to consider a deal raising tax rates for the top 2 percent of wage earners, he said, meant a budget accord appears out of reach at the moment.
Indeed, with than two weeks before Christmas, Republicans and Democrats have moved slightly off their opening offer, but not enough to budge negotiations.
Obama is proposing tax hikes on top earners worth $1.4 trillion, while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republicans are asking for $800 billion in fresh revenue. Boehner told reporters Wednesday that Obama's proposal cannot pass the House or Senate.
The two sides swapped new proposals this week, but are no closer to a deal. Boehner and Obama spoke Wednesday, a conversation the Republican described as a "deliberate" chat in which they "spoke honestly and openly about the differences" between the two parties' plans.
"I was born with the glass half full," Boehner said, when asked if the conversation left him hopeful. "I remain the most optimistic person in this town but we've got some serious differences."
Republicans say they've offered significant concessions but Obama has refused to bend.
"If you look at our budget, we had no new revenue in our budget. If you look at the president's budget he had $1.6 trillion worth of new revenue in his budget," Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning. "We've been reasonable and responsible in our approach to this and we're going to continue to do that. It's time for the president to do his part."
Indeed, that same message was echoed in the closed House Republican Conference meeting Wednesday. Boehner said he was genuinely surprised at how Obama's has handled negotiations. Cantor said Obama is not "serious," according to a source in the room.
The majority leader also urged House Republicans to stand firmly behind Boehner, saying the party's sole negotiator needs the backing of the rank-and-file to be effective. Democrats, he noted, are united behind the president in the talks.
Reid -- whose position is in sync with the president's -- warned that the lack of progress in the negotiations puts Washington at risk of failure on Dec. 31.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid warned Republicans that President Barack Obama would not accept a budget deal that does not include higher taxes on upper-income families, particularly since previous budget deals only dealt with spending cuts.
"The president's not going to fall for that again," Reid said. "The American people aren't going to be under the illusion that the Republicans are sometime in the future going to come up with revenue. They're going to come up with raising the rates. Or, Madam President, we're going over the cliff."
Speaking after Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) placed the blame squarely on Obama, saying the president is engaged in a "classic bait and switch" by constantly changing his demands. Obama is more interested in campaigning on the tax issue than negotiating, the GOP leader said.
"The president and his allies have taken so many things off the table," he said, "the only thing left is the varnish.
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