Nightly News | December 20, 2011
>>> good evening. while tonight people are on the move and mall parking lots are full amid the stress in the week leading up to christmas, the nation's representatives are fighting, and deadlocked between parties and within parties. while it's important legislation on payroll taxes and unemployment benefits that will affect working americans, it's the business of washington . and it's the fight that is coming through loud and clear. the closer you get to the capit capitol, the louder it becomes. it's a full on deadlock. it's where we begin with kelly o'donnell. there are genuine differences here dividing them?
>> reporter: deep policy divisions, and really the question tonight, brian, is who will blink first. that's actually where we are. democrats say having done a short term fix would have eased anxieties, especially through the holidays, but republicans say doing something short term is not a real solution. tonight congress is dug in even deeper. over your money.
>> what is happening here today is shameful. it's a disgrace. it is unreal, it is unbelievable. we can do better.
>> reporter: up against a january 1st deadline, democrats foul hard to get house republicans to go along with a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits . house republicans rejected it, and demanded the senate return to washington to negotiate a full one-year extension.
>> why don't we just do it now, and give the american people a real christmas present?
>> reporter: today speaker boehner wrote the president asking him to step in and call senate democrats back. instead, the president walked into the briefing room with a take it or leave it message.
>> let's not play brinksmanship. the american people are weary of it, they're tired of it. they expect better.
>> reporter: the president and the house speaker called each other out.
>> i need the speaker and house republicans to do the same. put politics aside --
>> i need the president to help out, all right?
>> reporter: surrounded by dozens of his members to show solidarity, boehner says there is enough time to forth a one-year deal.
>> all we need now is to resolve our differences. a two-month extension is nothing more than kicking the can down the road.
>> reporter: 160 million working americans will have to wait, not knowing if they will have to pay higher taxes in just 11 days.
>> i think it's a breakdown because congress itself is broken down, it's gotten to the point where it's partisan bickering.
>> it's people that put our government into power. and they seem to have forgotten that.
>> reporter: but tonight we wait. senate democrats say they will not come back to washington . some house republicans are saying they are staying here in town, to make the political point they're still working at it. and the president's trip to join his family in hawaii is a question mark . congress could try again, but, brian, will they?
>> and it goes on on capitol hill . kelly o'donnell starting