Efforts to avoid the U.S. fiscal cliff were in tatters last night after Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” legislation, which would have preserved Bush-era tax cuts on Americans earning less than $1 million a year.
Boehner had introduced the legislation as a fallback position to strengthen his bargaining power in budget talks with President Barack Obama. However, the speaker failed to muster enough GOP support to pass the bill and had to pull it from the House floor, Reuters noted.
With “Plan B” dead, and Congress readying to leave Washington for its Christmas break, the window for a deal is closing fast. In 11 days, mandatory tax hikes and budget cuts, part of last year’s deal to raise the debt ceiling, will kick in.
House members, who are returning home for the holidays, have been advised to remain on a 48-hour standby in the event of a last-minute deal. But any agreement will have to pass the GOP-controlled House, which seems increasingly uncertain after last night’s debacle.
Failure to even bring the “Plan B” measure to a vote leaves Boehner’s negotiating position substantially weakened, and gives the president greater control of the narrative regarding who will be responsible if the nation does, ultimately, go over the fiscal cliff.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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