Conservatives Force Boehner to Abandon His 'Plan B' Tax Hike--House Goes Home

By Terence P. Jeffrey | December 21, 2012 | 12:33 AM EST


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio)

( - Conservative members of the House of Representatives dealt a stunning defeat to the House Republican leadership on Thursday night, forcing Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) to cancel a vote on his "Plan B" tax-increase proposal.

Earlier in the evening, the Republican House leadership had been confident they could make the members of their caucus vote for the tax increase. But they miscalculated.

"Plan B" would have violated the pledge almost all House Republicans have made to the American people to oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates. It would have done so by increasing the tax rate on income over $1 million after Jan. 1.

"The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass," Boehner said in a statement released late Thursday.

"Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner said.

Conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R.-Kan.), a freshman and Tea Party advocate, was one of the leaders in the revolt against Boehner. Earlier this month, the House Republican leadership, acting through its Steering Committee, stripped Huelskamp and Rep. Justin Amash and Rep. David Schweikert from committee memberships. Huelskamp, Amash and Schweikert believed they were stripped of their memberships because of their conservative voting records. Boehner and the Republican leaders, however, never clarified why they punished the conservative lawmakers.

"Republicans should not be forced to vote for a 'show' bill that asks us to compromise on our principles," Huelskamp said after Boehner cancelled the vote on Plan B.

"On a separate note," said Huelskamp, "Republican leadership thought they could silence conservatives when they kicked us off our committees. I'm glad that enough of my colleagues refused to back down after the threats and intimidation, thus preventing the conference from abandoning our principles."

In the first hour of his nationally syndicated radio program on Thursday, which began at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, Mark Levin interviewed Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio), the chair of the House Republican Study Committee, which is the caucus of conservative Republicans in the House. Levin was an outspoken opponent of Boehner's plan, and Jordan used his appearance on the program to explain his opposition to it. At that time, Jordan said he did not know how the vote on Boehner's plan (which at that point was still on) would turn out.