Frustrated by their inability to wring more "fiscal cliff" concessions out of President Barack Obama, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced Tuesday night that they expect to pass their own tax bill as a backup plan to avert the tax hikes and automatic budget cuts set to occur in January.
No one expects the bill, which would extend low tax rates except on income of $1 million and above, to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Barack Obama's latest position puts the threshold for income tax hikes at $400,000.
While the move, called "Plan B" by Republicans, may not prompt Obama to give further ground in his negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, it could allow Republicans to argue they did what they could to stop tax hikes and the full impact of the "fiscal cliff," which the Congressional Budget Office and economists have said could trigger another recession.
"Why not put on the floor something that's what most Americans think the president is talking about, which is protecting from tax increases everybody but truly millionaires and billionaires?," said Republican Representative Pat Tiberi of Ohio.
When it dies in the Senate, he said, "that's not our problem. We can't be held responsible for what the Senate does."
Polls have consistently suggested that the public is likely to blame Republicans for failure to reach a deal ahead of the December 31 deadline for action.
After important concessions in recent days from both Obama and Boehner, Republicans expressed frustration that the president had not moved further.
The White House seemed unconcerned by the Republican tactic, and stressed Obama's willingness to compromise further.
"The president has demonstrated an obvious willingness to compromise and move more than halfway toward the Republicans," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, adding that Obama is making a "good faith" effort to reach a compromise.
Still, the mood on Capitol Hill was guardedly optimistic.
Global stocks advanced to their highest levels since September. Investors shifted funds to stocks and the euro and pulled away from safe-harbor assets such as bonds, gold and the U.S. dollar.
"They've still got a long way to go, but you can't help but say that the odds are better today than they were on Friday that we'll get some sort of agreement," said Oklahoma Republican Representative Tom Cole.
Hopes of an accord rose Monday night after Obama made a concession with his offer to limit tax increases to incomes exceeding $400,000 per household. That is a higher threshold than the $250,000 that the president had sought earlier.