WASHINGTON – House Republicans, facing a political dilemma without good options, prepared Tuesday to vote on a Senate-passed bill to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff even as conservatives within the party denounced the measure because of its tax increases.
At an early evening meeting of the Republican caucus – the second such session of the day – House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio outlined two options to his colleagues, according to lawmakers who were present.
One was to take up the Senate bill and amend it by adding a package of spending cuts. Amending the bill would almost certainly kill it. If that happens, tax increases on nearly all Americans and deep federal spending cuts would take effect. Senate leaders have indicated they would not consider further amendments to the bill that was negotiated between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. That measure passed the Senate early Tuesday, 89 to 8.
Republican leaders planned to do a count of their House members to see whether a majority would support a bill with spending cuts added. Several Republicans indicated that they did not expect to find a majority. Some conservatives said they would vote against the bill even with the added spending cuts because it allows taxes to rise for some Americans. Other Republicans indicated they would vote no because the amendments would kill the bill.