House Republicans Back Off Political Cliff and Will Allow Vote On Senate Fiscal Cliff Compromise

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

It earlier appeared House Republicans were fully prepared to shove themselves, their party and the country off the fiscal cliff. But they pondered the political realities — and gazed into a likely political abyss — and will now allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate fiscal cliff deal brokered by Vice President Joe Biden. The Huffington Post reports:

Subdued House Republicans Tuesday evening resigned themselves to passing the Senate’s “fiscal cliff” bill, backing away from threats earlier in the day to amend the deal with cuts.

The GOP called a hearing in the Rules Committee on the Senate measure, which is a precursor to holding a vote.

After their second conference meeting of the day, lawmakers said they were likely to punt on launching a fresh showdown with the Democratic-led Senate. Many appeared to concede that the end result would be an up-or-down vote on the Senate-passed fiscal cliff deal without any amendments. At least one lawmaker added his belief that with House Democratic support, the bill would end up making it into law.

“There are some Republicans who do support this along with Democrats,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said after the meeting, adding that he thought the number would be sufficient to get the Senate-passed bill through the House.

“When you have a bill passed with so many Republicans in the Senate, it probably would get a similar result [in the House],” Fleming said, comparing the situation to the 2011 end-of-year battle over the payroll tax cuts, which the House balked at then ultimately passed after 89 senators had voted for them — the same as voted early Tuesday for the fiscal cliff deal.

Fleming said he himself does not support the bill but thought it would be a “waste of time” to change it when Senate Democratic leaders have already said they would reject any amendments to the legislation. House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said the same earlier in the day. A Democratic aide, meanwhile, confirmed that addition amendments in the House “would just kill this thing,” in the Senate.

Fleming was confident that most Republicans did not want to go down that road.

Talking Points Memo:

House Republicans have decided to vote Tuesday night on Senate-passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff — without any amendments.

The news that the Rules Committee will move the bill to the House floor in the evening comes after drama-filled day that nearly scuttled the bipartisan deal that passed the Senate by a 89-9 vote in the first few hours of 2013.

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) predicted that the fewer than half of all House Republicans would vote for the bill without an amendment to add spending cuts. He said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated he would vote for it but said the speaker isn’t pushing GOP members to do so, saying they should vote their consciences.

Boehner probably won’t need half of his members because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the legislation would garner strong Democratic support. The move still represents a landmark for the speaker, who has habitually refused to bring up legislation that lacks the support of at least half of his members. But by breaking his rule this time, Boehner insulates himself from the blame for the fiscal cliff.

NBC News:

As the nation prepared for the beginning of the 113th Congress on Thursday, little was poised to change. Though Democrats made slight gains in November’s election, Republicans maintain control of the House; Democrats keep their grip on the Senate.

Republicans’ threat to torpedo the Senate deal was additionally reminiscent of other battles from throughout the two years. While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., managed to reach an accord with Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration, the Tea Party-infused House judged it insufficiently conservative.

All but seven Senate Republicans backed the proposal, and Biden had to spend two hours late on New Year’s Eve convincing Democrats of the plan’s merits, as it is.

But a familiar divide within the GOP pitting the establishment-minded dealmakers against the more ideologically directed and recently elected conservatives re-emerged on Tuesday. This divide almost resulted in a government shutdown and a default on the national debt in 2011. It again threatened Tuesday to allow the painful, across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts to play out just as the U.S. economic recovery showed signs of accelerating.

The Hill:

The House Rules Committee sent the Senate-passed “fiscal cliff” bill to the floor late Tuesday with a vote in the full chamber to take place around 10:30pm to 11pm.

After a day of lengthy internal GOP wrangling over whether to amend the Senate-approved bill, House GOP leaders decided that they did not have enough support to pass an amendment with Republican votes alone.

The move came after a pair of long closed-door Republican conference meetings, and is a signal that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) believes there are enough votes to pass the Senate measure without changes.

Earlier in the day, Republicans said they were considering an attempt to amend the Senate measure, but lawmakers said there was no consensus on what to attach to the bill to garner enough GOP support.

The two choices were: amend the bill with spending cuts — likely killing it for the 112th Congress — or vote to adopt the Senate measure and send it to President Obama for his signature.

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) said Tuesday night that Boehner told rank-and-file members, in response to a direct question, that if the House GOP could not muster enough votes to amend the bill, he would personally vote “yes” on the unchanged legislation. Speakers by tradition rarely vote on the floor, and Boehner has only voted on a handful of bills, generally when he wants to show solidarity with members taking politically difficult votes.

A FEW IMPORTANT TWEETS:
Howard Fineman:

Howard Fineman ?@howardfineman
Also clear that House GOP looking at prospect of a bigger Dem majority in the new congress, as well as pressure from the markets.

Major Garret

Major Garrett ?@MajorCBS
For those asking, House will vote on Senate bill as written. No amendment will be considered. Up-or-down vote. Very likely to pass.

Luke Russert:

Luke Russert ?@LukeRussert
Boehner’s leadership style is to let members vent, go off the reservation, then come back prodigal son style. Put USA in a tizzy 2day

Andy Borowitz:

Andy Borowitz ?@BorowitzReport
There are people in the House of Representatives I would not trust to work at Radio Shack.

Four Tweets from Time’s Mark Halperin:

Mark Halperin ?@MarkHalperin
President got R endorsement of tax hike w/o spend cuts,can get more revenue in ’13 w/tax reform&can hope ec growth->fewer spend cuts in ’13
Expand Reply Retweet Favorite
1h Mark Halperin ?@MarkHalperin

If bill passes, Republicans will have suffered a substantive loss, and a PR one. Will they adjust for next round? http://ti.me/Rs9PVi
View summary
1h Mark Halperin ?@MarkHalperin

Ppl shouldn’t be so cynical to assume all Cliff actors are abt pure politics. Several of the key players are worried about nation/economy
Expand
1h Mark Halperin ?

Mark Halperin ?@MarkHalperin
If House passes this,prez(w/biz backing) keeps debt ceiling out of next round,makes Rs specify next spending cuts&gets tax reform,BIG O WIN
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7 Comments

  1. Good Lord, I hope no pundit or politician proclaims “success” with this package. It’s yet another stall tactic, and wholly unimportant & stupid. These folks are going to drag this out longer and longer and longer. Just rip the damned Band-Aid off, already!

  2. This whole “fiscal cliff” fiasco reminds me of my old college roommate. He had a drinking problem, to put it mildly. Yet his “alcohol cliff,” if you will, was a bottle of whiskey he kept in a cupboard over the stove in the kitchen. It was a gift, and an expensive bottle if I remember correctly.

    His bargain – that he’d worked out with himself – was that if he ever broke down and cracked that bottle, then he was an alcoholic and would at that point need to stop drinking.

    And of course he never cracked that bottle, because he never had to…he’d always have enough liquor in the house. He’d made a bargain with himself that was easy to keep. There was essentially no downside – he could go buy booze at midnight and avoid cracking that bottle ever single time.

    Congress did the same thing. They set up a situation where they could keep giving themselves a fix while being able to claim they weren’t addicted.

  3. House passes bill

    Awaiting dramatic scenes as bill is rushed to White House to be followed by large self congratulating presser.

  4. There are people in the House of Representatives I would not trust to work at Radio Shack.

    Ya got that right.

    Also clear that House GOP looking at prospect of a bigger Dem majority in the new congress

    As much as the GOP deserves to be ousted (and they deserve it mightily) my trust in democrats has been shaken by all the caving (not to be confused with compromise) they’ve done since Obama came into office.

    Also what Patrick said.

  5. Long story short, taxes need to go up. I wish we had gone over the cliff. It is clear that no matter what Obama and the dems don’t have 1/10th the stones George HW Bush had when it comes getting serious about fixing things, and they never will. This is a joke of revenue increase, and I fully expect the economy to languish until its rectified. Nor will the financial sector ever be reigned in, not even by raising the bank rates so they can invest in bonds again instead of derivatives. By last count the derivative market is floating over $800 TRILLION, which is around 8x the total world value of everything. Every house, every car, every hamburger, every internet site etc…

    When the world realizes that, this house of cards comes down like you won’t believe, and nothing we’ve ever seen.

  6. Long story short, taxes need to go up.

    Both taxes & cuts/efficiencies need to be part of this. Latest math shows federal spending is approx. 35% borrowed. We can’t keep up this pace, that’s for sure. But if you raise all taxes by 35% we’ll have economic problems, and if you cut all spending by 35% we’ll also have economic problems.

    We’ve got to re-evaluate everything we’re doing, both taxes & spending. It’s time for tough, adult responsibility & decisions.

  7. It’s time for tough, adult responsibility & decisions.

    Needless to say, this congress doesn’t have a prayer of making such decisions.

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