The turn of the House
The deal passed by the Senate last night to avoid the fiscal cliff will probably pass the House. The question is, how many Republicans will Speaker Boehner be able to count on to vote "aye" and can he control his caucus and prevent any amendments to the deal that could potentially torpedo the measure in conference.
Because tax rates have now increased on paper, voting for the Senate-brokered agreement might also be easier for some, because the bill is now one that cuts taxes, not one that maintains current tax levels. The easy Senate vote also bodes well for House passage.
But it was still unclear late Monday night how House Republicans would react, especially given that the deal essentially avoids the $109 billion in planned spending cuts, and offsets that delay with some cuts and new tax revenue.
House Republicans plan to huddle on the issue at 1 p.m.
Before leaving Monday, House Republicans planned separate votes on some of these issues. For example, the GOP planned a vote on standalone bills to stop a congressional pay hike, and to avoid a possible doubling of milk prices.
If the House takes up the Senate bill, votes on these separate pieces of legislation may not be necessary. But as of late Monday, Republicans indicated it is unclear whether they would take up the bill as it stands or move to amend it right away. It was also unclear how quickly the House would act.
"The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed," House GOP leaders said. "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."
There will almost certanly be an attempt to amend the deal. The question is will Boehner be able to strong arm those who might want to blow up the agreement and get an up or down vote on the Senate package.
Boehner's success of failure will depend on how much influence he still holds in a caucus that has basically rejected his leadership twice in the last few weeks. While the speaker's pull may have eroded, it still seems likely that he can head off any attempt to amend the Senate deal and shepard a vote to a successful conclusion.