Speaker John Boehner today again called on President Barack Obama to lead the discussion about the “fiscal cliff,” saying that this is his time to work on a deal that can pass both chambers of Congress.
“This is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to work on a solution that can pass both chambers,” the Ohio Republican said.
He also called on the president to lead on immigration reform, which both leaders have said they would like to take up next year.
With a slew of tax increases and spending cuts set to take place in January, however, the fiscal cliff is the most immediate issue Congress will have to take up.
Boehner reiterated his stance that tax rate hikes are off the table, but he said that deductions on business and personal income should be part of the negotiations.
“I propose that we avert the fiscal cliff in a manner that ensures that 2013 is the year our government finally comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has joined Boehner in reiterating that Republicans will not raise tax rates as part of any potential budget deal.
In a statement originally provided to the conservative website Breitbart.com and confirmed by Roll Call, McConnell expressed skepticism that Tuesday’s election was a mandate on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans even though Democrats, who kept the White House and expanded their majority in the Senate, campaigned on doing so.
“One issue I’ve never been conflicted about is taxes. I wasn’t sent to Washington to raise anybody’s taxes to pay for more wasteful spending, and this election doesn’t change my principles. This election was a disappointment, without doubt, but let’s be clear about something: The House is still run by Republicans, and Republicans still maintain a robust minority in the Senate,” McConnell said in the statement. “I know some people out there think Tuesday’s results mean Republicans in Washington are now going to roll over and agree to Democrat demands that we hike tax rates before the end of the year. I’m here to tell them there is no truth to that notion whatsoever.”
Boehner has already been subject to griping from conservatives who think he is going too far out on a limb by calling for immigration reform and talking about tax revenue as part of a deficit reduction deal.
But Boehner said that it is clear to him from the defeat of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney and the loss of two Senate seats that the Republican Party must do some soul-searching.
“It’s clear that as a political party we’ve got some work to do. I think the principles of our party are sound. We believe in individual responsibility, we believe in empowering our citizens, we believe in the American dream and want that dream for everyone,” he said. “But how we talk about who we are as a party is clearly a conversation that is under way and will continue.”
Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.