In the wake of House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B debacle, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is calling on him to consider bringing President Obama’s most recent fiscal cliff offer — which includes $1.2 trillion in new tax revenue, and hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to safety net programs — to the House floor.
But though she evinced little appetite for moving the framework to the left, and expressed willingness to “iron out” differences with Republicans, she made clear that Democrats won’t tolerate any further significant concessions for Republicans. And in effect, she called on Boehner to be prepared to lose more than half of his conference in pursuit of a deal, if that’s what it requires to pass a bill.
“The fastest thing we can do is bring it to the floor for consideration,” Pelosi said at her weekly press availability Friday.
Asked if Democrats would accept further concessions — spending cuts or lower tax revenue — Pelosi was nonplussed.
“In return for what?” she asked.
For 120 Republican votes — half of Boehner’s conference.
“No, no, no,” Pelosi laughed. “The package is the package. It’s not about us, it’s about what it means to America’s great middle class.”
Pelosi again recalled the difficult choice to advance an Iraq War funding bill earlier in her tenure as speaker. “There were 86 Democrats voting for over 140 Democrats voting against. I had 60 percent of my caucus against what I brought to the floor. So 120 is not the number.”
Meanwhile Boehner’s desperate for an entirely different process — to toss the hot potato out of his chamber. He wants the Senate to amend House legislation extending all the Bush tax cuts with a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, and send it back to the House for consideration. That approach would limit the damage to the GOP, and likely yield a much more modest fiscal cliff plan than the one Boehner and Obama were negotiating. Democrats, unsurprisingly, aren’t enthusiastic about that idea.
“It’s time for the Speaker and all Republicans to return to the negotiating table,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “That is the only hope of averting the devastating impacts of the fiscal cliff entirely. And in the meantime, the Speaker should bring the middle-class tax cut passed by the Senate five months ago to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.