But with the White House threatening a veto, arguing it does too little address deficits and does not ask enough of the wealthy, it is unclear how passage would resolve the fiscal crisis.
If Boehner is able to get the bill through the House, he would prove he has the sway with his own members to potentially deliver the votes for a deal with the White House, even one that raises tax rates.
But, it would be a disaster for him if he puts the plan to a vote Thursday and fails to win enough Republican votes for it to pass.
Boehner received significant cover Wednesday as Americans for Tax Reform, the anti-tax group headed by Grover Norquist, announced it will not consider a vote for the plan a violation of the pledge signed by 238 House Republicans promising never to raise taxes.
That’s because the bill would merely allow tax breaks enacted under President George W. Bush to lapse, not impose new taxes, and it spares those making less than $1 million a year from a tax increase.
“Republicans supporting this bill are this week affirming to their constituents in writing that this bill — the sole purpose of which is to prevent tax increases — is consistent with the pledge they made to them,” Americans for Tax Reform said in a statement.
But its passage remained uncertain. With Democrats dead set against plan, Republicans can probably lose only 17 votes, and a number of conservatives have spoken out against it.
“I still keep coming back to the fact that if we actually vote and say some taxes are going to go up on some Americans, I think that’s problematic,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee and a respected voice among conservatives. “We are the party that says you should not raise taxes.”
With two unrelated votes scheduled for Wednesday, top House Republicans will fan out across the House floor among members to gauge and cajole their support.
Boehner’s plan would allow the top tax rate to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for those making more than $1 million a year.
It would not, however, replace automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January, a serious concern for hawkish Republicans concerned about a $50 billion cut that will hit the military without congressional action.
The plan also does not include additional spending cuts, as has been discussed in stalled negotiations between President Obama and Boehner over a broad deficit reduction plan.
“What kind of spending reductions are we getting in return? It’s pretty clear that there’s not a lot of that in this Plan B proposal,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said after being briefed on the idea Tuesday. He sounded potentially open to the idea but said the lack of spending cuts could divide the GOP.