Without enough votes to pass a backup proposal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” House Republican leaders on Thursday night pulled from the floor a vote on ‘Plan B’ legislation that would have preserved Bush-era tax rates for all earners making less than $1 million but raised rates on the country’s top earners, reported NBC News.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act.”
Earlier Thursday, Boehner and other GOP leaders said they were confident that they had sufficient support to pass the Plan B legislation, along with another package of spending cuts.
But the weakness of support became clear when the GOP-dominated House only narrowly passed the package of spending reductions, which was intended to replace automatic defense cuts, or “sequestration.” That measure, meant to encourage possible conservative dissenters to support the tax proposal, squeaked to victory by a margin of 215-209, with twenty-one Republicans voting against the bill.
The House then immediately went into an unexpected recess, with members huddled behind closed doors before announcing the end of votes for the evening.
Boehner proposed the “Plan B” legislation Tuesday, saying that it would provide a backstop to prevent middle class tax rates from jumping. But the measure was panned from both sides, with the White House calling it a political ploy that would be subject to a presidential veto and Senate Democrats pledging that it would not even be taken up for a vote in the upper chamber.
Tax watchdog Club for Growth also urged Republicans to vote “no” on the measure, as did conservative group Freedomworks – which originally supported the Plan B effort before abruptly switching to opposition on Thursday afternoon. The socially conservative Family Research Council also scolded that “Congress should know better” before the vote. After the Plan B vote was canceled, conservatives gloated.
The House will now recess for the Christmas holiday, leaders said. Members have been advised that the House will return “when needed” before the end of the year.
The White House issued a statement:
The President’s main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days. The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy.
And Boehner remains in the middle, trying to corral his own party while also negotiating with the White House.