For example, the vote on sequester replacement will likely help defense proponents like House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) support the backup fiscal cliff plan put forward by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Under current law, defense spending must be cut about $55 billion, something many Republicans have been looking to change.
Several Republican aides said the GOP decided not to vote on the Democratic plan to allow income tax rates to rise on families earning more than $250,000. The reason, they said, is that President Obama has recently said he could support keeping rates the same for families earning up to $400,000.
Given that change, the aides said, Republicans see no need to vote on the Senate-passed plan that would allow rates to rise above $250,000.
Boehner's plan to only deal with taxes changed after a meeting with the Republican caucus, after which several Republicans indicated they could not support it. Obama also held a press conference in which he criticized the plan for not dealing with tax cuts at all, something Republicans have pushed all year.
Boehner presented his tax-only plan as a backup plan for avoiding the worst part of the fiscal cliff — the pending tax hike on the middle class — and deal with spending cuts and the debt ceiling next year.
As of 7 p.m., the House Rules Committee was still in the process of approving a rule for the tax bill and a sequester replacement bill.
— Russell Berman and Jeremy Herb contributed