Reid says it will be ‘extremely difficult’ to reach deal on deficit before Christmas

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday it would be “extremely difficult” for Washington to reach a deal before Christmas to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff."

“We can do things very quickly, but this is not something we can do easily,” Reid said at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. 

“But until we hear something from the Republicans, there’s nothing to do ... I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to get this done before Christmas," he added.

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Reid said splits within the Republican Party over how to move forward in negotiations were slowing efforts at a deal.

Reid's comments came after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier in the day delivered a rare House speech, also suggesting that little progress had been made in talks. 

Boehner accused President Obama of dragging out the negotiations and said the White House needed to "get serious" about identifying spending cuts to reach a deal.

“Where are the president’s spending cuts?” Boehner asked. “The longer the White House slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff.”

Boehner and Obama met on Sunday at the White House, but the Speaker's comments and those from Reid suggest there has yet to be a breakthrough towards a deal to avoid January's tax hikes and automatic budget cuts.

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Democrats say they will not sign on to a deal unless Republicans agree to raise rates on the top 2 percent of income-earners. Republicans, though, hope to shift the negotiations toward identifying spending cuts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking only moments before Reid on Tuesday, said there were some aspects of a deal that were ready to go, and others that would take some time to hash out. But, mirroring Boehner, he suggested the onus was on Democrats to address cuts.

On entitlement reform, McConnell said “we know what [the changes] are, they don’t require any more study, it just requires the courage to do it.”

“Tax reform obviously can’t be done by the end of the year,” he continued. “That’s going to take a while.”