WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that he's not confident Congress can reach a budget deal and avoid a downgrading of the U.S. debt rating. His Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, was far more hopeful that "some kind of agreement" would be reached after the elections.

Boehner was asked at a Capitol Hill news conference how confident he was that negotiations would prevent the government from hitting the so-called fiscal cliff – an economy rattling set of across-the-board spending cuts and higher taxes caused by the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts that are set to hit in January.

"I'm not confident at all," said Boehner, R-Ohio.

Boehner reminded reporters that the House has passed legislation to both avoid the automatic, across-the-board cuts next year and to renew the Bush era tax cuts for one year as well. Republicans warned of the impact of the impending cuts on the military and implored Senate Democrats to act to avoid them.

"I'm hopeful we will reach some kind of agreement," countered Reid, D-Nev., suggesting that the results of the election will weaken the GOP's resolve to block tax increases on wealthier earners and that Republicans will be more willing to compromise.

"I believe that once the elections are over, the tea party's strength will be significantly weakened," Reid added.

The Senate, however, has deadlocked over taxes and failed to address the across-the-board cuts, known as a sequester in Washington parlance.

"Listen, the House has done its job, both on the sequester and the looming debt fights that'll cost our economy some 700,000 jobs," Boehner said. "On both of these, where's the president, where's the leadership."

Obama has called for replacing the sequester with a combination of tax hikes and cuts elsewhere in the budget. But his call for higher taxes on upper bracket earners has been repeatedly rejected by Republicans.

Any real negotiations on avoiding the combination of fiscal austerity are not expected until after the November elections – and the outcome is sure to play a huge role in how the issue plays out in a post-election lame duck congressional session.

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  • This video image provided by House Television shows Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.

  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohion) seems to fight back tears while listening to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gillard emphasized the long and strong bond between her country and the U.S.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) seems to fight back tears while listening to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gillard emphasized the long and strong bond between her country and the United States.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) seems to fight back tears while listening to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gillard emphasized the long and strong bond between her country and the United States.

  • Fighting back tears as he recounted his rise from humble beginnings to the presumed Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) addresses the Republican National Congressional Committee's midterm election results watch party at the Grand Hyatt hotel November 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Major news organizations have said that the Republicans will win enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

  • Fighting back tears as he recounted his rise from humble beginnings to the presumed Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) addresses the Republican National Congressional Committee's midterm election results watch party at the Grand Hyatt hotel November 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Major news organizations have said that the Republicans will win enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

  • House Republican leader John Boehner, R-OH, fights back tears as he addresses the National Republican Congressional Committee Election Night Results Watch event in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2010. An emotional John Boehner, the presumed speaker-elect of the US House of Representatives, told fellow Republicans at the victory party that Americans have sent President Obama message to 'change course'.

  • Fighting back tears as he recounted his rise from humble beginnings to the presumed Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) addresses the Republican National Congressional Committee's midterm election results watch party at the Grand Hyatt hotel November 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Major news organizations have said that the Republicans will win enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

  • Astronaut Neil Armstrong (L) recievces the Congressional Gold Medal from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) during a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol November 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. The gold medals were presented to Armstrong and his fellow crew members from Apollo 11, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, and to astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American to orbit the Earth.

  • Astronaut Neil Armstrong receives the Congressional Gold Medal from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) during a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol November 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. The gold medals were presented to Armstrong and his fellow crew members from Apollo 11, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, and to astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American to orbit the Earth.

  • House Speaker John Boehner <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufYmnD3fhfk&feature=related" target="_hplink">chokes up in an interview on CBS</a>.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) wipes his eyes as outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) prepares to hand over over the speaker's gavel following his election in the House chamber January 5, 2011 in Washington, DC.