WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that fiscal cliff negotiations have stalled and that a week of on-and-off talks and noisy political maneuverings by both sides have achieved no results.
"There’s a stalemate," Boehner told reporters in a press conference after President Barack Obama's speech. “Let’s not kid ourselves.”
Later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she hoped Boehner did not mean talks were indeed in a "stalemate." "Maybe that's a figure of speech," she suggested.
"We all know what is at stake here," Pelosi added. "So why are we stalling? … I don't know what the wait is for." The minority leader said she will try to push the middle-class tax cut extension to the House floor for a vote next week, which would require a petition.
Since Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented the administration's initial offer to congressional leaders Thursday, Republicans have panned the proposal, calling it "inadequate" and "not serious."
On Friday, Boehner insisted that those comments weren't simply political posturing, as some Democrats have charged. Boehner also indicated that Republicans remain open to further negotiation.
“Republicans are not seeking to impose our will on the president,” he said.
Discussions are hung up on many of the same issues that have provoked partisan bickering for weeks: Whether to raise rates for the top 2% of American taxpayers; by how much to cut entitlements; and whether to raise the debt limit as part of the fiscal cliff package.
Boehner said that “sooner is better than later” for a fiscal cliff deal, but the speaker would not specify a deadline by which talks must conclude. He has remained in touch with the president, he said, most recently during a 30-minute phone call Wednesday.
Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders defended the president against Republican attacks.
"The president has put forth a very specific offer," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said earlier Friday. "It doesn’t mean (Republicans) have to like the offer.”
"I don't think it's an ending point," Hoyer added, referring to the president's plan. "This is a democratic process."