Fiscal Cliff Deal Meets Resistance in House GOP

4:31 PM, Jan 1, 2013   |    comments
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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House Majority Leader


House Republicans -- including a top leader -- expressed opposition Tuesday to the Senate-approved fiscal cliff agreement because it lacks sufficient spending cuts, complicating its chances of final passage.

Criticism surfaced during a close-door meeting hosted by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

"The lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern amongst members in today's meeting," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "Conversations with members will continue throughout the afternoon on the path forward."

During the session, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told colleagues, "I'm opposed to this deal," according to a lawmaker in the room who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about private deliberations.

It was unclear if Cantor would vote against the bill in the end, but his opposition is an early warning sign the Senate-passed bill may face problems in the House.

The GOP caucused after Vice President Biden huddled with House Democrats, seeking to build support for proposal designed to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts associated with the fiscal cliff that took effect with the new year.

The flurry of House activity came just hours after the Senate approved an agreement in the wee hours of New Year's Day, the deadline for the cliff.

The plan worked out between the White House and Senate leaders would raise taxes on the wealthy, eliminate some -- but not all -- tax hikes for the middle class, and defer a series of budget cuts for two months.

It's not known when, or even if, the House will vote on the package, which critics say does little to reduce the nation's debt and only delays a looming battle over the debt ceiling.

GOP members emerging from the meeting made clear that Republicans have broad concerns about the bill and that a vote today was in question. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said Republicans are discussing amending the package to add additional spending cuts.

"I would be shocked if this bill didn't go back to the Senate," Bachus told reporters.

Doing so would throw the whole deal in to question as the Senate has already passed a bill and this Congress ends at noon Thursday -- erasing all prior action and leaving Congress to start anew with roughly 100 new lawmakers entering the House and Senate Jan. 3.

Some prominent House conservatives -- including Reps. Justin Amash and Jason Chaffetz -- have also said they will oppose the package.

Some critics pointed to a Tuesday report by the Congressional Budget Office, saying the Senate bill would add nearly $4 trillion to federal budget deficits over the next decade, largely because it extends the lower income tax rates for nearly every American.

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