The Senate's top Republican Mitch McConnell said now is "the perfect time" to tackle entitlement reform, but without President Obama's help, he warned, nothing will happen.
"We're prepared to do difficult things, but he must be a part of it, because we're not looking at making an issue here -- we're looking at making a law. And that requires the signature of the President of the United States," McConnell said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
But McConnell said he doesn't believe Obama is serious about resolving the problem.
"I have now had a number of private conversations with the president and the vice president," he said. "I was hopeful that we would step up to the plate here, if you will, and use this divided government opportunity to do something big about our long-term problems.
"What I don't see now is any willingness to do anything that's difficult," he said. "Look, this is the perfect time to do it. We control part of the government. They control part of the government. It could be done in a very, very effective way. ... I haven't given up hope but frankly I'm not optimistic."
If lawmakers cannot reach a long-term spending agreement or pass another short-term funding measure, then the government would shut down for the first time in 15 years.
With the parties still $50 billion apart in proposed cuts -- and senators set to spend the first half of this week merely taking political show votes -- there is a long road ahead before any agreement is reached.
As Durbin told reporters last week, it will take "a super-human effort" from both sides for that to happen.