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Congress: 'Revolt,' 'embarrassing,' 'chaos,' 'stunning,' 'near tears'

The front page of the New York Times with the photo of a sullen-looking Boehner: “Boehner cancels tax vote in face of G.O.P. revolt.” Its lede: “Speaker John A. Boehner’s effort to pass fallback legislation to avert a fiscal crisis in less than two weeks collapsed Thursday night in an embarrassing defeat after conservative Republicans refused to support legislation that would allow taxes to rise on the most affluent households in the country.”

The Washington Post: “House Speaker John A. Boehner threw efforts to avoid the year-end ‘fiscal cliff’ into chaos late Thursday, as he abruptly shuttered the House for the holidays after failing to win support from his fellow Republicans for a plan to let tax rates rise for millionaires.”

The L.A. Times called it “a stunning political defeat that effectively turned resolution of the year-end budget crisis over to President Obama and the Democrats.”

Politico’s lede: “Things were so bad for Speaker John Boehner Thursday night, support for his Plan B tax bill so diminished, the limits of his power with his own party laid bare, that he stood in front of the House Republican Conference and recited the Serenity Prayer. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Boehner nearly cried.”

The Washington Post also says Boehner was “near tears.” From the story: “The failure of a grand bargain was the latest oh-so-close moment for Obama and Boehner, who have been dancing around a deal to cut the deficit for the better part of the past two years. And the collapse of Plan B set a new low in Boehner’s sometimes rocky relationship with a House Republican caucus that has long been uneasy about the speaker’s dealmaking with Obama.”

More from behind the scenes: “Having offered so much, Boehner hoped he could keep the details quiet long enough for him to get Obama to agree to enough spending cuts to satisfy his caucus — and so that his leadership team could make the case for compromise in person. But the details did not stay secret for long. Reports leaked out Saturday evening that Boehner had agreed to raise taxes on millionaires. That was followed by a more alarming leak Sunday evening that Boehner was also willing to grant Obama another increase in the federal debt limit. Home in their districts, unsuspecting rank-and-file Republicans were stunned. At that point, senior aides to those lawmakers began anxiously reaching out to GOP leadership staff wanting to know what had happened to the Boehner demand that every dollar in a debt ceiling increase would come with an equal cut in spending. Boehner’s staff scrambled to issue a memo to Republican aides and outside conservative strategists that explained his offer included $1 trillion in spending cuts — roughly the increase in the debt ceiling. But other leadership aides said that the damage had already been done.”

The Wall Street Journal: “Boehner's Budget 'Plan B' Collapses.”

Before you get your parachutes, National Journal’s Frates writes, “if politics is part theater – and God knows there’s been plenty of choreographed drama this week – then the House vote tonight marks the end of Act II with the all-important third act climax to come. There is still plenty of time, and opportunity, for Boehner and Obama to strike a deal. … The path to a deal remains. The only question is whether the speaker and the president can walk down it together.”

More: “[B]ehind the rhetoric there was a strategy at play. The plan appeared designed to move Obama toward the speaker’s position of smaller tax increases and larger spending cuts while helping conservatives wrap their heads around the idea of voting for a tax hike.” And: “Though Boehner couldn't get his caucus on record supporting a tax hike, his voter counters now have a much better idea of how many Republicans could get behind that approach. That's important because if Obama and Boehner strike a deal, he won't need to deliver all the votes himself. An Obama-blessed package will win support from House Democrats, who opposed Plan B. Most Republican insiders believe Boehner only has to deliver about half his members to keep his speakership.”

Just asking, why would Boehner negotiate terms with the president he already knew he couldn’t sell?

The speaker struggled to round up GOP votes for a package that only would have raised taxes on millionaires. If Boehner had trouble selling his own package, it sends a message to Obama that his position, raising taxes on people who make over $400,000, is going to be even tougher to pass.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and talked of getting something done, but when asked point blank if he’d vote for a tax increase on anyone, he said, flatly, no. He claimed Speaker Boehner always "dives left" and "conservatives are on the outside.” He said, “I disagree with John Boehner actually caving on taxes.”

Then the conversation went to gun control. Huelskamp initially said there could be a “conversation” on what the solutions to the problem could be, but then said, "It's not a gun problem; it's a people problem."

Buried: “Congressional Republicans on Thursday challenged the Obama administration's plan for correcting flaws exposed by the deadly attacks on the U.S. mission in Libya, pressing for an overhaul of its approach to security and probing to discover what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top officials knew before the attacks,” the L.A. Times writes.