Five Senate Republicans also rejected the measure, including tea party favorites Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah).
But 40 others voted for it, including such GOP leaders on tax-and-spending policy as Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), a tea party star who frequently consults with House conservatives.
Neither party was entirely happy with the bill. While conservatives complained about new taxes and a lack of spending reductions, liberals complained about its provisions regarding inherited estates.
Although the tax rate will rise from 35 percent to 40 percent, estates worth as much as $5 million — $10 million for married couples — will go untaxed. And an inflation adjustment will guarantee that the size of the exemption will grow to $15 million for couples by the end of the decade.
Still, House Democrats largely embraced the measure, which was negotiated by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and endorsed by Obama. After receiving a point-by-point 90-minute briefing from Biden on Tuesday, Democrats rallied around the package.
“It’s long overdue for us to have this solution to go forward and remove all doubt as to what comes next for our country,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
But it was a different story among House Republicans, who at first appeared to strongly oppose it. In the early afternoon, the GOP gathered for the first of two lengthy closed-door briefings in the basement of the Capitol.
There, Boehner told members that he wanted to hear their views but would not take a position. Cantor, meanwhile, “forcefully” aired concerns that the measure would raise taxes but not cut spending, said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Afterward, Cantor emerged and told reporters: “I do not support the bill.”
That view was widespread in the room, where House members vented their frustrations at the Senate for foisting the arrangement upon them. Many rose to say they should take advantage of the legislative process, tack on billions in new spending reductions and force the Senate to respond.
“We should not take a package put together by a bunch of sleep-deprived octogenarians on New Year’s Eve,” retiring Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio) said in a dig at Senate leaders. LaTourette, who has championed ambitious deficit-reduction efforts, faced the prospect of casting his last vote in Congress for a measure that would sharply deepen deficits.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said a consensus was developing that the GOP should amend the Senate’s plan. “I would be shocked if the bill did not go back to the Senate,” he said.