Tennessee Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais are headed home for the holidays, while a viable resolution to the impending fiscal cliff remains nowhere in sight.
There weren't enough votes Thursday for the House to pass "Plan B," a tax bill proposed by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. A vote on the measure was canceled, and lawmakers were sent home with no clear indication if they would return before a $700 billion mix of tax increases and automatic spending cuts begins to go into effect on Jan. 1.
Among Republicans who voiced opposition to the bill was Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who said the legislation as proposed did not contain "anywhere near the sufficient level" of reductions in spending 4th District constituents desired.
"The only way to end our yearly $1 trillion deficits is to institute serious reforms and prioritize our spending," DesJarlais said in a news release. “Our nation’s debt is being driven by government’s inability to control wasteful spending—not because there is a lack of revenue."
Tyler Threadgill, spokesman for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, declined to comment on the bill or lack of a vote.
The increase in revenue proved to be a major point of dissent for Republicans. Boehner, who had said earlier in the week that he was confident his measure would pass, was stretched to convince fellow party members that preserving tax rates for those earning less than $1 million a year was an acceptable compromise to the line delivered by President Barack Obama—who initially demanded a rate hike on American families earning more than $250,000 but later moved to $400,000.
Boehner's plan would have generated an estimated $300 billion in additional revenues over the next 10 years. The plan also received a nod from Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, who said that a vote for "Plan B" would not be considered a violation of an anti-tax pledge taken and adhered to by many members of the GOP caucus.
DesJarlais indicated he would not completely rule out a vote in favor of a bill that included a tax increase, but added that any measure would have to be accompanied by a clear understanding that government spending was acceptable.
"I will not consider voting to raise taxes on anyone until I can tell my constituents that Washington is spending their hard-earned money in an efficient and effective manner,” he said.
Along with the increase in tax rates, Boehner's proposal would have included a change in the amount of taxes collected on capital gains for millionaires. The rate on earnings would have changed from the current 15 percent to 20 percent—a far cry from a two-year, 0 percent rate proposal on capital gains proposed by Fleischmann in November of last year.