Republican congressional leaders said Wednesday that President Obama's most recent proposal to solve the debt crisis lacks a balanced approach of tax cuts and spending reductions but vowed they would stay in Washington during the Christmas holiday break to reach a deal.
"We're going to stay here until Christmas Eve and even the time between and before the New Year," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Capitol Hill.
The Virginia congressman was joined by House Speaker John Boehner, who said the president's most recent offer still has "too many taxes" and could not pass in either the House or the Senate.
"The longer the White House slow walks this, the closer we get to a fiscal cliff," Boehner said after meeting with members of his leadership team. "I am the most optimistic person in town, but we have some differences."
His remarks damped the optimism in Washington that was created by a flurry of exchanges earlier this week between Boehner and Obama - a phone call Sunday, an Obama offer Monday, and Boehner's counter-offer Tuesday that was followed by another phone conversation.
Boehner's refusal Tuesday night to talk about his counter-offer and the most recent phone call suggested a deal was within striking range and perhaps too delicate to fight over in public.
However, Boehner on Wednesday described the conversation as "deliberate" and focused on the divide they face.
Cantor's vow that he and fellow Republicans will work through the holidays to reach a deal -- which would avoid a roughly $500 billion mix of automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts on January 1 - followed several House Republicans saying Boehner had given them similar marching orders.
New York Rep. Pete King said Boehner told House members not to make plans for the holidays
Said Washington Rep. Doc Hastings: "It's going to be a long December for us."
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