House Speaker John Boehner's plan to vote on his "Plan B" fiscal cliff proposal was met with stiff opposition by members of his own party on Thursday.
In a major setback for Boehner, who is trying to present a strong position in negotiations with the White House, House Republicans turned their back on the proposed plan and left him short of the 217 Republicans needed to pass the bill. According to a CNN report, Boehner said he was confident that his plan would pass the House. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), was also confident, issuing a statement and telling reporters that the House had the votes to pass the measure.
When it became clear that there were not enough Republicans willing to vote in favor of his bill, Boehner pulled the bill for the House floor and issued a statement which said:
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”
After Boehner pulled his bill, the Washington Post states Cantor announced that the House had adjourned and was leaving town until after the Christmas holiday. According to the floor summery by the House Office of the Clerk, the House officially adjourned at 7:06 p.m. EST.
The announcement left many in Washington wondering how the Republicans could walk away with the fiscal cliff looming larger than ever. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said if the fiscal cliff is not avoided, the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that go into effect the first of the year would cause the country to fall into recession in 2013. The CBO also predicts that the unemployment rate will see a sharp rise, going from 7.9 percent to 9.1 percent.
Disbelief and outrage over the Republican's plan to walk out of negotiations and go home for the holidays began swirling throughout Washington. Approximately two hours after announcing the House had adjourned for Christmas, Cantor reversed course and said House leaders would not send lawmakers home, telling the Wall Street Journal:
"We want to avoid the fiscal cliff from happening."
The division and confusion within the Republican party, along with the sudden change in plans, have many wondering what the next step will be for the GOP. Republican Rep. Jeff Flake was disappointed his party did not vote on the bill and says he believes they should support the Democrat's proposal to extend tax cuts for everyone who makes under $250,000 a year. He told CNN his message to others in his party is:
"Get it done."