After conservative revolt, the House clears fiscal cliff deal

Peter Weber
The Week
John Boehner and House Republicans are all that stand in the way of a fiscal cliff deal.

Despite a day of griping and intrigue among Republicans, the House sends President Obama a Senate deal to cancel a spate of fiscal discomfort

Late Tuesday, the House cleared a Senate compromise to cancel a host of tax increases and push off for two months some $110 billion in spending cuts, effectively pulling the country back from its 24-hour slow-motion slide over the side of the fiscal cliff. House Republicans allowed the bill to come up for a vote without any poison-pill amendments — a strategy proposed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other conservatives in the House — and it needed a majority of Democrats to pass. In fact, only 85 of the 240 House Republicans joined 172 of the 191 Democrats in the chamber to approve the bill and send it to President Obama for his signature — the final vote, 257 to 167, was a far cry from the broadly bipartisan 89 to 8 vote in the Senate nearly 24 hours earlier. 

This was the last act of the widely unpopular and unproductive 112th Congress, and it sets up plenty of drama for the 113th Congress after it gavels into session on Thursday. In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) faces an early test of his leadership when his caucus votes on whether to keep him in charge of the chamber of pass the gavel to another Republican, probably Cantor. Boehner and GOP budget wunderkind Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) voted in favor of the bill while Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (Ill.) all voted against it.

SEE MORE: Will the House sink the fiscal cliff deal?

Whether or not he keeps his leadership position, "the speaker is undoubtedly weakened," says Daniel Newhauser at Roll Call. After losing most of his caucus in the vote — a violation of the "Hastert Rule," a 20-year-old tradition in which GOP speakers only call votes on bills that a majority of Republicans will support — "Boehner now slumps into the 113th Congress with gavel firmly in hand but with scant ability to wield its power to control his conference."

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