House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to the media about the fiscal cliff at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. …In a stinging setback for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, a lack of support from inside his own party for his “fiscal cliff” fall-back plan forced him late Thursday to cancel a much-trumpeted vote on the measure.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said in a written statement released after an emergency meeting of House Republicans.
The measure, dubbed “Plan B,” would have let Bush-era tax cuts expire on income above $1 million annually, while extending them for everyone else. It appeared that Boehner faced a rebellion from conservatives opposed to any tax hike, while House Democrats starved the bill of their support, making passage impossible.
Boehner’s dramatic defeat cast fresh doubt on efforts to avert the “fiscal cliff” and spare Americans across-the-board income tax hikes come Jan. 1. Those increases, coupled with deep automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect the same day, could plunge the fragile economy into a new recession. Talks between the speaker and President Barack Obama were at a stalemate, according to aides on both sides.
After the cancellation of the vote, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced on Twitter the House "has concluded legislative business for the week. The House will return after the Christmas holiday when needed."
Boehner’s “Plan B” had aimed to shift any blame for going over the "fiscal cliff" to Obama and Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid. Polls show a narrow majority of Americans say they would hold the GOP responsible if a deal is not reached to avert the "cliff."
“Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff,” the speaker said. He pointed to House passage of Republican bills that would stop all of the tax increases and replace the automatic cuts. “The Senate must now act.”
The vote had initially been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. But House Republican leaders’ vote counting showed up coming up short. Rather than suffer a defeat in a floor vote, they pulled the bill.