GOP lawmaker: Boehner to hold 'Plan B' vote whether he has the votes or not

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will hold a vote on his “Plan B” legislation to lock in tax rates on households with less than $1 million in annual income even if he thinks it will fail on the floor, a senior GOP lawmaker told The Hill.

Some Republicans and conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, opposed Boehner’s plan because tax rates on annual income above $1 million would be allowed to expire.

But Boehner and other GOP leaders believe that even if the measure fails, it will show President Obama that Republicans won’t vote for a “fiscal cliff” deal unless it includes significant spending cuts.

“[GOP leaders] are just now trying to come up with some raw numbers and then I'm sure there'll be decisions after that but I think he's going to go through with it regardless,” the lawmaker said. “It would show the president that he doesn't even have the votes for [tax cuts] with no [spending] cuts.”

The lawmaker said that it would demonstrate that House Republicans “realize that regardless of whether the president or Senate Democrats realize it or not, that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”

Boehner would gain leverage with the president if the measure approves the House, since it would show the Speaker’s conference is unified behind him. If the vote fails, Boehner would have less leverage since divisions in his conference would be on full display.

The House is expected to vote on Boehner’s legislation Thursday. It is also expected to vote on a Senate bill that would extend tax rates on annual income below $250,000.

Obama campaigned on the argument that tax rates on annual family income above $250,000 should be allowed to expire. In the talks with Boehner, he has moved to a threshold of $400,000.

GOP leaders are furiously whipping votes in advance of Thursday. House Democrats are whipping their own members against the legislation, leaving the GOP little room for error.

Several Republican lawmakers said it is not clear whether the leaders will have enough support to pass a bill on GOP votes alone.