Cantor vows 'Plan B' will pass House

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) vowed on Thursday that Republican leaders would have the votes to pass Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” tax bill over Democratic and conservative opposition.

“We’re going to have the votes to pass both the permanent tax relief bill as well as the spending reduction act,” Cantor told reporters at a Capitol press conference, where he announced the House would also vote a separate package to replace automatic spending cuts due to take effect Jan. 1.

GOP leaders added the spending package to the docket in a bid to win Republican votes of members who complained that Boehner’s tax bill did not address sequestration, the $109 billion in across-the-board cuts to military and domestic spending that both parties have criticized.

Negotiations between Boehner and Obama to prevent the “fiscal cliff” have stalled, prompting Boehner to put forward his fallback plan.

Boehner’s bill would make current income tax rates permanent for taxpayers earning up to $1 million a year but would allow taxes to increase for those making more. Party leaders have scrambled to cobble together the votes for legislation that many conservatives consider a tax increase.

The spending reduction bill is nearly identical to legislation the House majority passed over Democratic opposition earlier this year. Republicans added it to the schedule late Wednesday night, prompting Democrats to boycott a vote in the Rules Committee setting floor procedures for the measures.

Senate Democratic leaders have already said they would not pass the backup tax bill, and the White House has threatened to veto it.

The final House vote is expected around 8 p.m. on Thursday evening.

Cantor said he would keep members in town after the vote, but it was not clear for how long. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that the Senate would go home this weekend for Christmas and return on Dec. 27.

“We do not intend to send members home after this vote,” Cantor said. “We want to stay here. We want to avoid the fiscal cliff from happening. And again, I think the decision is for the White House and Senate Democrats to come join us so we can avoid the tax hikes for the American people and avoid the fiscal cliff.”

Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper added that while the majority leader said the House would not adjourn Thursday after the vote, "the rest of the schedule is undetermined." Members have already been advised there may be weekend votes, he noted.

— Updated at 12:10 p.m.