House GOP threatens to scuttle fiscal cliff deal

Ryu Spaeth
The Week
Eric Cantor is leading GOP opposition to a bipartisan bill that would extend tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans

The bill enjoyed strong support from Republicans in the Senate, but the House wants more spending cuts

House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), are putting up strong opposition to a bipartisan tax bill passed earlier Tuesday by the Senate. House Republicans are steaming over the fact that the bill, which extends the Bush tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans, does not contain enough spending cuts. "The lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern among members," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).

Republicans reportedly want to amend the bill with more spending cuts, a move that would surely upend a compromise carefully constructed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden. As a result, the possibility is growing that Congress will fail to extend the Bush tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans before the 112th Congress ends on Thursday. At that point, a newly elected Congress will be sworn in, a new bill will have to be crafted, and the window to mitigate the damaging effects of across-the-board tax hikes will narrow.

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The chaotic denouement of the fiscal cliff saga has crystallized the House GOP's increasingly absurd inability to compromise, perhaps more than any other episode of the last two years. It's amazing to see Republicans demand concessions to offset an extension of tax cuts. The House GOP's opposition is doubly damning considering that the bill was passed with overwhelming Republican support in the Senate. (Only five Republicans voted against the bill.) Members of the upper chamber were so confident that they had solved the crisis that many skipped town.

Republicans in the House are meeting again late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the bill, and to figure out a way forward.

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