The Corner

Why the House Couldn’t Amend the Deal

A lot of conservatives in the House wanted to add spending cuts to the Senate deal and spent hours trying to figure out if they could pass a version of the deal that included them. They failed, though, for the same reason Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” failed.

You may recall that Boehner wanted the House to pass a bill that blocked income-tax increases for everyone making less than $1 million a year but allowed scheduled increases to take place for people who make more. He couldn’t get such a bill through the House, though, because Democrats wanted a bigger tax increase and a lot of Republicans didn’t want to appear to be endorsing tax increases for anyone. Republicans especially didn’t want to vote “for tax increases” since Boehner’s bill probably wasn’t going to become law. From their perspective, they would be sullying their voting records for nothing.

A deal-plus-spending-cuts bill faced the same hurdle. Republicans had to find 218 votes from their ranks alone; Democrats weren’t going to supply any votes for a bill to the right of the Senate deal. And a lot of Republicans didn’t want to vote “for” tax increases — bigger ones than many of them had rejected when Plan B was being considered. Again, they especially didn’t want to do that when the bill had a good chance of dying in the Senate.

In short: A lot of Republicans wished the deal included more spending cuts without being willing to vote for a deal with more spending cuts. That’s why this effort failed.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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