Will House Scuttle Fiscal Cliff Compromise?
The Senate’s last-ditch compromise to retroactively avert the fiscal cliff faces a less certain outcome in the House of Representatives, which has just two days to act before the new Congress convenes and the whole process must start over.
According to the New York Times, “it was clear Tuesday morning that many House Republicans were disenchanted with the plan.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that conservative Republicans are dismayed the compromise raises tax rates and doesn’t include more cuts in federal spending. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has raised the possibility the House could amend the bill and send it back to the Senate.
This Congress faces a final deadline of noon Thursday to pass legislation. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a new Congress convene at noon on Jan. 3, unless the previous Congress passes a law designating a different date.
House Republicans planned a closed-door meeting Tuesday to decide their next move, according to the Associated Press.
The Senate compromise, which would negate the fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts, was approved by 89-8 early Tuesday. It would prevent middle-class taxes from going up but would raise rates on higher incomes. It would also block spending cuts for two months, extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices.
The measure ensures that lawmakers will have to revisit difficult budget questions in just a few weeks, as relief from painful spending cuts expires and the government requires an increase in its borrowing cap.
Boehner pointedly refrained from endorsing the agreement, though he’s promised a vote on it or a GOP alternative right away. But he was expected to encounter opposition from House conservatives, and it was unclear when the vote would occur.
Boehner planned to brief his caucus early afternoon Tuesday. Biden scheduled a separate meeting with House Democrats to reprise his role of Monday night, when he promoted compromise to Senate Democrats before that chamber voted. Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., arrived at the Capitol in late morning, and both bid “Happy New Year” to greeters but didn’t say anything substantive about the Senate-passed bill.
No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor says he opposes the Senate bill to avert the “fiscal cliff,” according to the Associated Press.
“I do not support the bill,” Cantor told reporters while leaving the House GOP meeting, CNN relates.
House Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the Senate’s bill to avert the fiscal cliff, making it nearly certain that Speaker John Boehner’s chamber will amend the legislation and send it back to the Senate.
Officially, GOP leadership has not made a decision what to do with the Senate-passed tax hike bill, which the Senate passed overwhelmingly shortly after 2 a.m. But in a real sign of trouble, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, No. 2 in House leadership, came out in opposition to the package.
A second meeting of House Republicans will be held Tuesday afternoon, at which leadership and the rank-and-file members are likely to settle on a path forward.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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