Fiscal Cliff Vote Exposes Divide in House GOP

Analysis:  After a 2012 election that launched countless queries about the future of a fractured Republican party, 2013 -- so far -- is not looking exactly like a year of Kumbaya for the GOP.

The short-term compromise that Congress passed  last Tuesday night to avoid the immediate impacts of the so-called fiscal cliff only sets up much bigger battles in the coming months as Washington will once again square off over automatic cuts in military and non-entitlement discretionary spending, the budget resolution and an extension of the nation's ability to continue borrowing.

"This is the story of this Congress, " NBC's Chuck Todd said on Wednesday's "Today" show.  "Every major decision that they came up with, and it began with a threat of a government shut down just two months into this Congress. And then of course we had the debt ceiling showdown, then it culminated with this fiscal cliff and all we've done is created what's coming in March. ... Take all the fights we had separately and put them in one fight. And put them all expiring at the same time - debt ceiling, funding the entire federal government (that expires), and then this."

Todd called the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff a "debacle" for the Republican Party.  "yesterday we almost had the Republican leadership in the House almost completely undermine the Republican leadership in the Senate. It looked like they threatened to scuttle the whole thing, and they ended up helping Barack Obama raise taxes more than any Republican Party in a generation has helped anybody raise taxes, and they got nothing for it. ... The Republican Party has to figure out what it wants to be, first, before they sit down at the negotiating table. And then they've got to figure out who's going to do the negotiating for them. Is it Mitch McConnell? Is it John Boehner? Who runs the Republican Party? I think that's unclear out of all of this. ... Until the Republican Party figures is sort of unified in what it wants to do, it's not going to be an effective negotiating force against the president."

The late-night House vote that approved a compromise deal to avert the fiscal cliff included notable divisions between Republican leaders, with some of House Speaker Boehner's top deputies breaking with him to oppose a measure that might have been embraced by conservatives two decades ago.

Tuesday night's drama helped show that there is a governing majority in Congress of sorts -- just not one that necessarily includes the majority of the party that will continue to control the House of Representatives for at least the next two years.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois all voted against the deal, which garnered only 85 Republican ayes compared to 151 Republican nos.

The strong opposition from House Republicans was surprising in light of an overwhelming vote from GOP senators early Tuesday morning. Just eight in the upper chamber -- and just five Republicans -- opposed the deal, with one 'no' vote -- from Florida's Marco Rubio -- sparking instant speculation about how opposition to the agreement would impact his possible presidential ambitions.

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