House Democrats finished a “standing-room only, three-hour-long” caucus meeting this afternoon that included a pep rally from Vice President Joe Biden on the fiscal cliff deal that passed the Senate early this morning.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) told reporters that Biden gave members “a very thoughtful and detailed explanation of what has gone on, and how it was that he and the president, working with the Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses, were able to come together on this compromise.”
“There are people throughout this country who might look at this deal and love it, some might hate it, some may not understand it,” Becerra said.
Putting on a unified front, the Democrats said they were waiting for the final word from the House Republican caucus, where members including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have a problem with the bill’s lack of spending cuts.
“I do not support the bill,” Cantor briefly told reporters on his way out of a caucus meeting.
Democrats are calling for an up-or-down bill, regardless. House Republicans are reportedly planning to offer amendments that fix the tax-vs.-spend inequity, but Senate Democrats have indicated that they will not accept an amended bill.
House Democrats also said they expect an up-or-down vote on the bill as it passed the Senate in the wee hours.
“The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed. Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members — and the American people — have been able to review the legislation,” Republican leaders said in a statement yesterday.
“Up until now our Speaker has said when the Senate acts, we will have a vote in the House. That is what he said. That is what we expect. That is what the American people deserve,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “…Right now our members, after very thoughtful deliberations and review, are continuing to review the legislation, weighing the pros and cons and weighing the equities of not going over the cliff, but we all are very eager to see the form that the Republican leadership will put onto the floor today.”
“Democracy means, as I said, a willingness to come together for the good of the country,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman said members were being offered various options by the speaker and Cantor and asked for their feedback.