As I write this post, the House Republican caucus is meeting to determine what it will do with the deal that passed the Senate early New Year’s Day morning. That deal, built upon a gutted H.R. 8 which the House passed in August 2012, allows the Bush tax cuts on Americans making more than $400,000 to expire but does not rein in federal spending. In fact, it creates even more federal spending, at a 41-to-1 ratio.
House Speaker John Boehner presented his caucus with two options. Option One would have the Republicans determine if there are enough votes to amend the Senate bill, pass it, and send it back over to the Senate. Option Two would trigger if Option One fails, and would have the House vote yes or no on the Senate’s version of H.R. 8.
The Senate has adjourned and gone home. If the House amends the Senate bill and sends it back, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid would have to call the chamber back into session to deal with it, and under a tight deadline: H.R. 8 will expire along with the 112th Congress on Thursday if it is not passed by both houses and signed by the president.
The more information that comes out about the the Senate’s deal, the worse it looks. The Senate bill included a nice tax break for Hollywood, which has strongly supported President Obama and the Democrats, while disproportionately raising taxes on small businesses.
Update: The House has been voting on unrelated bills while leadership whips members to determine if the amendment process has a chance of passing. According to reports, the votes weren’t there to amend the bill. So, with that failure, the House will up-or-down on the Senate version. The House did pass a federal pay freeze to stop Obama’s unilateral pay hike to federal employees and members of Congress.