What riles House Republicans isn't the taxes on the rich in the Senate's 'fiscal cliff' bill, it's the absence of significant spending cuts. But changes at this late date could scuttle the bill.
UPDATE: At 11 p.m., the House voted to pass the Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill, 257 to 167, with 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats opposing the bill.
The Senate “fiscal cliff” bill, which blocks the largest tax hike in US history and passed on a stunning 89-to-8 vote early Tuesday morning, now faces an uncertain path in the House, as GOP leaders weigh prospects for adding spending cuts to the bill.
In a surprise move, House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia announced on Tuesday that he does not back the bill. Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, who faces reelection as speaker on Jan. 3, has committed to putting a bill on the floor, but has yet to signal his support.
Many House Republicans are troubled by the lack of spending cuts in the deal. Back in the summer of 2011, conservatives fought tooth-and-nail against raising the debt limit and grudgingly agreed only because $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years – called the "sequester" – were promised to begin no later than Jan. 1, 2013.
Now with that day come – and almost gone – these lawmakers are caught between a desire to hold Congress accountable and a fear that failure to reach a fiscal cliff deal could set off a sharp response on Wall Street Wednesday. The stark fact is that, at this moment, the Senate deal is the only thing preventing the US from plunging fully over the fiscal cliff – the $600 billion in tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that many economists say might throw the country into a fresh recession.