John Boehner: ‘No substantive progress’ on ‘fiscal cliff’ talks

Chris Moody

WASHINGTON—House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday offered a grim portrayal of the progress between Republicans and Democrats on a deal to avoid a series of automatic tax increases next year.

"No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House during the past two weeks," Boehner said during a press briefing on Capitol Hill, signaling that little had changed since Republicans presented their framework for a deal earlier this month.

Both parties are currently negotiating behind closed doors to produce a deal to avoid many of the tax increases. Boehner said Thursday that he continues to be open to the Democrats' call for policies that would increase tax revenue, but only in exchange for an overhaul of the federal government's expensive entitlement programs.

"Revenue is only on the table if there are serious spending cuts that are part of this agreement," Boehner said.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, confirmed that he spoke to President Barack Obama by phone on Wednesday night about the state of the negotiations. While he characterized the conversation as "straightforward," Boehner declined to discuss details.

Moments after Boehner made his remarks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held his own press conference with other Democratic Senate leaders, including Patty Murray of Washington, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Charles Schumer of New York. Reid said Democrats would stick with their proposal to let the Bush-era tax rates expire for families that earn more than $250,000 per year and were waiting for Republicans to respond.

When asked about Boehner's comments that he would do nothing until Democrats put forth a new proposal, Reid replied: "I don't understand his brain."