Despite Cantor's remarks, Boehner took no public position in advance of voting the bill as he sought to negotiate a conclusion to the final crisis of a two-year term full of them.
The brief insurrection wasn't the first time that the tea party-infused House Republican majority has rebelled against the party establishment since the GOP took control of the chamber 24 months ago. But with the two-year term set to end Thursday at noon, it was likely the last. And as was true in earlier cases of a threatened default and government shutdown, the brinkmanship came on a matter of economic urgency, leaving the party open to a public backlash if tax increases do take effect on tens of millions.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the measure would add nearly $4 trillion over a decade to federal deficits, a calculation that assumed taxes would otherwise have risen on taxpayers at all income levels. There was little or no evident concern among Republicans on that point, presumably because of their belief that tax cuts pay for themselves by expanding economic growth and do not cause deficits to rise.
The relative paucity of spending cuts was a sticking point with many House Republicans. Among other items, the extension of unemployment benefits costs $30 billion, and is not offset by savings elsewhere.Others said unhappiness over spending outweighed fears that the financial markets would plunge on Wednesday if the fiscal cliff hadn't been averted. "There's a concern about the markets, but there's a bigger concern, which is getting this right, which is something we haven't been very good at over the past two years," said Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio. For all the struggle involved in the legislation, even its passage merely cleared the way for another round of controversy almost as soon as the new Congress convenes.