Republican leaders, chastened by a failure to get conservatives to back a tax hike on millionaires, said Friday they were not walking away from negotiations with President Barack Obama on resolving a looming fiscal crisis.
House Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" tax bill crashed to defeat Thursday night when he realized he did not have the necessary votes, but, despite the setback, he and his number two Republican in the chamber both insisted it was now up to Obama to compromise in order to secure a year-end deal.
"I don't want taxes to go up. Republicans don't want taxes to go up," Boehner told reporters in the US Capitol.
"But we only run the House. Democrats continue to run Washington."
Both parties are scrambling to work out a deal that would avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," a combination of tax hikes on all Americans and deep mandated spending cuts on military and domestic programs that kick in beginning January 1 if Congress does not act.
The Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent members home until after the Christmas break, and Boehner essentially said late Thursday that the ball was in Obama's court.
Despite the conservative backlash over the prospect of raising taxes, Boehner insisted he was not abandoning talks, and bristled when a reporter suggested as much.
"No, no, no. Listen, I did not say that," he stressed.
"I'm interested in solving the major problems that face our country, and that means House leaders, Senate leaders, and the president are going to continue to have to work together to address those concerns."
Boehner's tax bid was part of an overall offer to Obama that would raise some $1 trillion in tax revenue -- mostly through closing loopholes and ending certain deductions -- and another $1 trillion in spending cuts, including slashes to some entitlements like Medicare.
"I told the president on Monday these were my bottom lines," Boehner said.
"The president told me that his numbers, $1.3 trillion in new revenues, $850 billion in spending cuts, was his bottom line, that he couldn't go any further.
The White House has described its offer as $1.2 trillion in tax revenues and nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts, although Republicans dispute whether all of the austerity measures are real.
"And so we see a situation where because of the political divide in the country, because of the divide here in Washington, trying to bridge these differences has been difficult," Boehner said.
Obama had originally insisted on letting tax cuts expire on households earning more than $250,000, but has since upped the threshold to $400,000 in a bid to reach a compromise.