House Speaker John Boehner's office said Tuesday that Republicans have made a counterproposal in "fiscal cliff" talks with the White House. Word of the offer came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will be hard to reach a deal before Christmas.
Officials said President Barack Obama and Boehner had exchanged at least partial proposals in the past two days, although details were sparse and evidence of significant progress scarcer still. Obama and Boehner spoke by phone Tuesday after exchanging proposals.
Earlier, Reid said Democrats aren't going to make an offer on spending cuts. "Until we hear something from Republicans, there's nothing to draft," Reid told reporters in the Capitol, referring to writing legislation to implement a deal.
"It's going to be extremely difficult to get it done before Christmas."
The Nevada Democrat made his comments after House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama of dragging his feet in "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
"Let's be honest. We're broke. The plan we offered is consistent with the president's call for a balanced approach," Boehner said. "We're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the balanced approach that he promised the American people. Where are the president's spending cuts?"
The stock market was taking Tuesday's developments in stride. (Read More: Stocks Off Highs on Reid's 'Cliff' Remarks.)
Rebutting Boehner moments after he made his comments, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Obama and Democrats have in fact identified spending cuts they can support as part of a balanced plan to avert a "fiscal cliff" that threatens to send the economy into another recession.
In remarks on the floor of the House, Pelosi said Republicans should permit a vote on Obama's plan to let tax cuts expire at upper incomes, while keeping them in place for the middle class. She predicted the legislation would pass.
"The irony of this is that the White House offer had very specific cuts, the GOP counteroffer had almost none," tweeted the president's communications director, Dan Pfeiffer. White House aides circulated a summary pointing to more than $300 billion in proposed Medicare savings that are included in Obama's budget, as well as another $250 billion in non-health benefit programs.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told CNBC that while there are still a number of hurdles to overcome, he believes there's a better than 50 percent chance an agreement will be reached by Dec. 31.
"The lines of communication are open, many of our Republican colleagues recognize the strategy they had been pursuing isn't working," the Maryland Democrat said. "And the president also has been very clear he's been willing to make some compromises and tough decisions to reach an agreement."
The chiefs of more than a dozen major corporations, meanwhile, sent a letter to Obama urging both sides to compromise.
"We pledge our active support for a compromise that includes comprehensive and meaningful tax and entitlement reforms that result in market-credible spending reductions and revenue growth," the letter said. Signers included W. James McNerney Jr. of Boeing and John Engler of the Business Rountable.
The day's events underscored the difficulty confronting the White House and congressional leaders as they struggle to avert across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs that are scheduled to take effect at the turn of the year. Economists say the combination could send the economy into recession.