House Speaker John Boehner today pressured President Obama to come forth with an updated White House offer that could pass both chambers of Congress, with negotiations over a deal to avert the fiscal cliff at a standstill after the White House rejected the GOP's latest counterproposal earlier this week.
"If the president doesn't agree with our proposal and our outline, I think he's got an obligation to send one to the Congress," Boehner, R-Ohio, said this morning after the House Republican conference meeting. "We're ready and eager to talk to the president and to work with him to make sure that the American people aren't disadvantaged by what's happening here in Washington."
Boehner called the Republican proposal earlier this week "a good faith offer," complete with significant spending cuts and new tax revenue. Still, the president quickly rejected the proposal Monday afternoon because it did not increase tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers.
Boehner now says it's up to Obama to make the next move. "We need a response from the White House," Boehner said. "We can't sit here and negotiate with ourselves."
As party leaders on both sides of the aisle quarrel about how best to deal on taxes, Republicans highlight the differentiation between raising new revenue by increasing tax rates versus closing loopholes and capping deductions. The president has been adamant that tax rates for the top 2 percent go up in any deal on the "fiscal cliff."
"The revenues we're putting on the table are going to come from guess who? The rich," Boehner said. "There are ways to limit deductions, close loopholes and have the same people pay more of their money to the federal government without raising tax rates, which we believe will harm our economy."
Just 27 days remain until the "fiscal cliff" hits with a barrage of automatic spending cuts and tax increases and time is not a luxury for lawmakers laboring to pass a deal. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy called the next 72 hours "critical" in avoiding a stalemate.
"We want the answer to solving the fiscal cliff," McCarthy, R-Calif., said. "If [President Obama] sits back and continues to play politics, that will give your answer of where we're going. This is an opportunity for this country to lead. This is an opportunity for the president to lead."
Despite the urgency, the House will conclude legislative business for the week later today, releasing most lawmakers back to their districts for a long weekend. One person who plans to stay in town, however, is the speaker.
"I'll be here," Boehner said. "I'll be available at any moment to sit down with the president to get serious about solving this problem."
Boehner has not spoken to the president since last Wednesday, even though he went to the White House for a holiday reception Monday evening.
After five days off, the House is scheduled to return for legislative business next Tuesday.