House Speaker John Boehner, in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, said he'd sit down with Democratic leaders "tomorrow" to end the standoff that is risking an income tax hike for all Americans in January.
At stake is the reduced tax rates that were put in place during the Bush administration but are scheduled to go back up if Congress and President Obama don't act by the end of the year. Both sides favor extending the lower rates for most Americans. But Democrats prefer to let the rates go up for top earners, while Republicans insist that the rates be locked in for everyone.
"We've been making this case all year, that we ought to extend all of the current tax rates," Boehner said in the interview, to air Thursday at 10 p.m. ET. "There's no reason to wait. I'm ready, willing and able to sit down with the president or Harry Reid tomorrow and to resolve this issue for the American people."
Reid, the Senate majority leader, already has overseen the passage of the Democrats' proposal, with a 51-48 vote on Wednesday, though the majority Republicans in the House are expected to take up rival legislation that extends the tax rates for everyone.
Obama has vowed to reject any legislation that doesn't increase tax rates for households that make more than $250,000, or the top 2 percent of American households. He has argued that top earners need to shoulder a greater share of the burden of closing the federal budget gap.
Republicans have countered that raising taxes on anyone while the economy continues to sputter could be disastrous, and they argue that those top earners are job creators.
Gridlock on the issue threatens a so-called "taxmageddon" if all the rates go up together, but Boehner said it's not surprising that consensus is difficult to come by.
"Republicans control the House, Democrats control the Senate, Democrats control the White House. And so we’ve got a recipe here for being at loggerheads," he said. "But I think it’s our job – even though we may have some very strong opinions and opposite opinions – our job is still to find common ground and do the best for the American people.
"But you can’t do the tango by yourself. You’ve got to have a willing partner. I’ve not had a willing partner."