Hours after his fellow Republicans delivered a crushing blow to him, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday morning the rebellion wasn’t aimed at him, but rather at federal spending.
He also laughed off talk that he may lose his speakership.
“While we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases, I don’t think — they weren’t taking that out on me,” he said at a press conference.
Joining him was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the man who had been seen as his chief rival, in a show of unity that seemed designed to quell any talk of a challenge to Mr. Boehner’s speakership.
Late Thursday, Mr. Boehner’s “fiscal cliff” Plan B collapsed when too many conservatives in his own caucus told him they couldn’t support it. It would have extended tax cuts for most Americans but would have let rates rise on those making more than $1 million, which conservatives said was still a tax increase.
Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Mr. Boehner offered no concrete path forward.
He ruled out turning off the $110 billion in automatic spending cuts looming on Jan. 2, and said the message he takes from his fellow House Republicans is that the focus going forward must be on cutting spending.
“What the president has proposed so far simply won’t do anything to solve our spending problem,” he said.
Thursday’s action leaves Mr. Boehner with little leverage in his negotiations with President Obama.
The White House said Mr. Obama is still eager to work out a deal with Mr. Boehner, but the Ohio Republican and Mr. Cantor seemed to place the burden on the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take the next step and propose a solution.
Mr. Boehner said the House has already passed bills to halt the tax increases and spending cuts that make up the fiscal cliff, and said it’s now up to Democrats to do something.
He said if Mr. Reid wants the House to take up a plan to raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more, he’ll have to pass that version through the Senate and send it over.