After an hour delay so Speaker of the House John Boehner could try and whip up more Republicans votes to get his Plan B vote through Congress, the Speaker's saving grace bill didn't even go to a vote. And Boehner, like Elvis, left the building.
The vote was originally scheduled for 7:30 ET, but the GOP elected to delay it for about an hour. That let to many suspecting Republican leaders clued in that they didn't have the votes, even in the Republican-controlled house. Adam Jentleson, Harry Reid's communications director, tweeted he, "can't remember the last time this much effort went into a pointless vote," which, bias aside, spoke to how much effort the Republicans were putting into gathering the votes. There were reports of cheering from a GOP meeting during the break. And then everything went to hell.
Boehner announced the bill wouldn't go to a vote tonight. (Or ever, maybe.) Congress was told to go home for Christmas. The word on the street was Boehner lost 26 votes. The meeting that cheering could be heard from? Well, it wasn't exactly positive. Luke Russert reports Rep. Mike Kelly just shouted at the Republicans present to support Boehner's plan. That didn't take, surprisingly. "Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner's statement read. Things were chaotic, apparently, and the immediate reaction wasn't good for Boehner's already-shaky job prospects:
Wow, things have totally, officially unraveled. Boehner left the Capitol building, quite literally.— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) December 21, 2012
Boehner speakership is facing its Mayan moment. No Capitol reporter I talked to has EVER seen anything like what just went down— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) December 21, 2012
Am on the Hill tonight. Chaotic scene. Seems like we just witnessed a meltdown of House GOP leadership.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) December 21, 2012
@zekejmiller they have no lifeline to give. He is powerless now.— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) December 21, 2012
And, heck, just to make matters worse the markets plummeted.
What was even weirder was the Daily Beast reporting that Boehner's bill passed... before it was originally scheduled to go to a vote. At 7:00 p.m., the Daily Beast's Cheat Sheet reported this:
It was only a matter of time, after all that happened, that speculation turned towards Boehner's future as Speaker. But it wasn't about his upcoming vote. No, the question became whether he still wants the job:
Wanna bet that right now, Boehner is seriously considering giving up the speakership? Wouldn't you?— Timothy P Carney (@TPCarney) December 21, 2012
Update: Jay Carney, the President's Press Secretary, released this statement:
The President’s main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days. The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.