Once again as Senate leaders worked on a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” House Republicans met with little idea about what to expect in the coming hours.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) convened his party conference, but little was discussed regarding fiscal matters.
Boehner told his colleagues “that he loves us very much, but he would prefer not to be with us on New Year’s Eve,” said Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), a key ally of the speaker.
“This is disgusting and everybody involved should be embarrassed, one, at this moment in time and two, that we’re talking about this small-ball – it’s not even small-ball, it’s a ping-pong ball – of a proposal. I think it’s awful,” LaTourette said.
But he left open the possibility that a bill passed by the Senate with no additional spending cuts could still pass the GOP-controlled House. If such a bill is presented to the House, “the math becomes different, because then you would think that the president would bring a number of Democrats along. And then it’s just a question of how many Republicans.”
LaTourette said he could vote for such a plan, but that he would "prefer to see it decoupled."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who has generally avoided reporters since failing in her bid for the presidency earlier this year, emerged from the meeting and criticized President Obama for playing politics with precious few hours left before the fiscal deadline.
“I think what the president wanted to do is make sure that he could pin the blame on Congress, because I think the president wants to have a final two years just similar to his first two years, which is a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate and a Democrat president, because he wants to do whatever he wants to do in the next term,” Bachmann said. “I think it’s a cynical move on the part of the president for political purposes. It’s a terrible thing to do for the American people. I think it’s despicable."
The House plans to hold a series of votes this evening on non-fiscal matters and then is likely to adjourn until noon Tuesday. But Bachmann insisted her colleagues would quickly return if a Senate deal suddenly materializes.
“The House is here. We are here, we passed a same-day rule so that if something happens, we’re here, we’ll come up until 11:59 and 59 seconds,” she said. “We’re here in the city, no one’s going anywhere, we’re here and we’re ready. We’ve done our work in August. Now [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and the president need to do their work as well.”