Washington (CNN) - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who supports making permanent all the Bush-era tax cuts, signaled Thursday he's open to considering compromises with the White House to temporarily extend them instead.
"I'm willing to listen to what the President has in mind for protecting Americans from tax increases," McConnell said.
McConnell issued the statement shortly after White House advisor David Axelrod was quoted suggesting the White House was prepared to accept a temporary extension of tax cuts for both wealthier Americans and the middle class.
McConnell's comments were in contrast to House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio who as recently as Wednesday insisting that all the tax cuts be made permanent.
"I've said this about 500 times," Boehner said at a news conference. "I think expanding all of the current tax rates and making them permanent will reduce the uncertainty in American and help small businesses begin to create jobs again."
Republicans believe that Democrats see their window to negotiate as fairly small because after the first of the year Republicans will have not only control of the House but increased ranks in the Senate.
All Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire Dec. 31st but there are some Republican sources who say if the two sides remain deadlocked, it could be to the Republicans' advantage to let the cuts expire–for what could be a few weeks–and then take the issue up when the new Congress convenes in January.
Still, a senior Republican source says that would be a last resort option and that a more likely scenario is the one Axelrod laid out - a temporary extension for both the middle class and the wealthy.
President Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have been pushing to make middle class tax cuts permanent and do away with the tax cuts for the wealthy.