Conservative members of the House of Representatives signaled Tuesday that they would oppose the last-ditch fiscal cliff deal the Senate passed in the morning’s wee hours by an 89-8 vote.
During a closed-door caucus mere hours after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that he would not support the bill. As the number two Republican in the House, his opposition presented a clear sign that the deal, if it does end up going through, will not do so smoothly.
Other Republicans, though they remained vague on how they’d vote since negotiations are ongoing, joined Cantor in expressing displeasure with the deal. Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) joked to reporters that the House shouldn’t have to accept a deal that was crafted by, “sleep-deprived octogenarians.“
Generally, Republicans opposition to the deal comes from the fact that it does not contain any net spending cuts, something they had maintained was a necessity in any fiscal cliff deal. Party members were reportedly considering whether to bring the bill to an immediate vote or to first amend it by adding some spending cuts.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had said he would hold a vote as soon as the Senate sent him a bill, though it was unclear if he would follow through on that and risk losing his speakership in a revolt once the next Congress begins.
Should Republicans try to amend the bill, it would almost assuredly kill it altogether. House Democrats have firmly said they’ll balk at such a move, meaning Republicans would first need to pass an amended bill with no bipartisan support. And even if that happens, Senate Democrats have said an amended bill would be dead on arrival in their chamber.
With Republicans expected to at least attempt to tack on amendments, Democrats have already threatened to produce a less favorable deal should they current one fall through. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) suggested moving the income ceiling for tax cut extensions back to the $250,000 level Democrats first sought when negotiations began.
The deal agreed on in the Senate would allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for all Americans with annual income under $450,000. Though it does not cut spending, it would raise and estimated $600 billion in revenue over ten years by allowing tax rates on wealthier Americans to revert to their Clinton-era levels.
As of Tuesday evening, House Republicans were still meeting to debate their next action.