Boehner was forced to pull his tax plan from the floor on Thursday evening when it became clear the GOP did not have the votes to pass it. The speaker called a last-minute conference meeting to notify his members.
But he predicted that, ultimately, the ordeal will not cost Boehner his job, blaming instead the intractable wing of the conference who refused to vote for the plan B.
“It’s like saying that the superintendent of an insane asylum should be discharged because he couldn’t control the crazy people. That’s nuts,” he said.
Rep. Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, said Boehner tried his best but just wasn’t up to the “Herculean” task of selling Republicans on the bill, given the circumstances.
“Our leadership team did the very best they could. It was just too big a hill to climb. And they admitted it,” Barton said.
But outgoing Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said Boehner could have tried harder.
“Well, I think that if he felt strongly, he should have just kept us here all night long and just continue to make the case. It was a major issue for him,” he said.
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said the stiff resistance from Democrats made voting for the bill less appealing.
“I mean, Harry Reid’s already said if we pass this bill tonight, he’s not going to take it up. And the president would veto it anyway. So what’s the point, folks?” Fleming asked.
Democrats sought to press their own position in the wake of Boehner’s surrender on his plan B.
“Plan B has just become plan C, which is chaos,” Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview after the announcement.
Israel expressed disappointment that the lawmakers were being directed to go home. “We should now take up the president’s compromise, tweak it, let Republicans try to tweak it so we can get it passed and get the middle class the certainty they deserve,” he said.
Jonathan Strong, Meredith Shiner and Sam Goldfarb contributed to this report.
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