DENVER — Two Colorado Republican congressmen helped torpedo Speaker John Boehner’s tax plan Thursday night, joining an amazing anti-tax mutiny that has imperiled the House GOP leader and, perhaps, driven the nation a bit closer to the fiscal cliff looming in 11 days.
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, both planned to vote against Boehner’s “Plan B”, which was pulled from the floor Thursday night after Boehner failed to whip enough members of his divided GOP caucus in line.
The proposal from Boehner, a strategic move to enhance the little leverage he had in negotiations with the White House, would have allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire on Americans making more than a million dollars a year — something more than half of the House GOP was unable to stomach.
The stark reality that the vote was merely symbolic — Senate Democrats said they’d never pass the legislation and the White House promised a veto — didn’t give those fiscal conservatives much incentive to abandon their anti-tax ideology or pledges to constituents for a political stunt.
According to talking points Lamborn gave his staff to pass on to constituents who bombarded the office with phone calls Thursday, the congressman “cannot support Plan B because it fails to give tax relief for one class of Americans.
“President Obama campaigned on a pledge to raise taxes, and Congressman Lamborn does not wish to assist him in raising taxes on any Americans,” the talking points continued. “Congressman Lamborn would like to see the Bush tax rates extended permanently for all Americans.”
Gardner, who is viewed as a rising star within the House GOP caucus but is closer to Majority Leader Eric Cantor than Boehner himself, “was not going to vote for it because it didn’t address spending at all,” according to spokeswoman Rachel George.
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, may have been the only Republican member of the Colorado delegation planning to vote in favor of Plan B, Coffman’s office confirmed to FOX31 Denver Friday.
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Grand Junction, wouldn’t reveal which way he planned to vote Thursday night and appears to have held his cards close to the vest, even to the GOP whip counters.
Tipton’s office, in response to a FOX31 inquiry, released a statement saying only that the congressman “was weighing all options.”
Spokesman Joshua Green says that’s the same thing Tipton told the whip counters trying to determine whether the legislation had enough votes to pass the House.
According to Green, Tipton “is hopeful that the Senate and President will join the House to pass a bipartisan solution to the fiscal cliff that includes legitimate spending cuts, avoids sequestration, and initiates comprehensive tax reform while preventing one of the largest tax increases on Americans in history from going into effect.”
Coffman, according to a report by The Hill, was stupefied after Boehner informed the House GOP caucus that Plan B was dead Thursday night.
“I’ve never seen anything like it where leadership just completely backed down,” Coffman told The Hill. “I guess they made an assessment that the people who were no votes were entrenched no votes, because otherwise I think they would have just pulled it and they would have worked it longer.”
Coffman called the meeting “awful.” “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen leadership retreat. It was a real shock – the Speaker looked shocked,” he said.