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NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports on what happens now.
ANDREA SEABROOK: From the beginning of this week, it was clear that the group had reached an important moment.
ERIC CANTOR: Its crunch time in those meetings.
SEABROOK: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
CANTOR: When it gets tough, it's up to the parties involved to focus on making the case. And I'm going to continue to go in there and make the case that House Republicans want.
SEABROOK: Republicans' case, said Cantor, is that trillions in cuts must be made, without a penny of tax increases on any person or business. On Wednesday, Cantor still sounded engaged in the negotiations.
CANTOR: I continue to remain optimistic that we can get some real savings. And as the speaker has laid out, we need trillions of dollars of savings.
SEABROOK: House Speaker John Boehner spoke to reporters.
JOHN BOEHNER: I understand his frustration. I understand why he did what he did. But I think those talks could continue, if they're willing to take those tax hikes off the table.
SEABROOK: The other Republican inside the talks, Senator John Kyl of Arizona, quickly followed Cantor in leaving the negotiations. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he's disappointed with the Republicans.
HARRY REID: We can't give up. These issues that we're dealing with are far too serious. Democrats are not going to give up on cutting our deficit and creating jobs. We're not going to give up on the American people. And that appears to me, what's happened with these people walking out on these discussions.
SEABROOK: We have to act like adults here, said Reid. And he pointed out that some of the country's most important budget makers were putting enormous time and energy into a serious, bipartisan solution.
REID: They have the vice president of the United States, secretary of the Treasury, head of the Office of Management and Budget coming up here virtually every day - coming up here. To have first leader Cantor and then Senator Kyl just drop out of the discussions, that is untoward. I'm terribly disappointed.
SEABROOK: There is a chance that moderates of both parties could join together and pass a compromise bill in the House, but that would require top Republicans to allow that compromise to come to the floor. Asked if he would do that, Boehner said yesterday...
BOEHNER: If ands and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.