(NECN/NBC News: Steve Handelsman) - With a bit more than 10 days until the fiscal cliff, there was a shocker Thursday night on Capitol Hill: House Speaker John Boehner's move to show off republican unity backfired.
The vote on Boehner's ‘Plan B’ was cancelled abruptly.
It was a big embarrassment for the Speaker, who had hoped to force democrats to follow his lead.
"If Senate democrats and the White House refuse to act, they will be responsible to the largest tax hike in American history," said Boehner.
But Boehner's tax plan, to raise rates on income over a million dollars, upset tea party republicans.
"This debate should be about spending not taxes," said Georgia Rep. Paul Broun.
Realizing they were in trouble, Boehner pulled republicans into a meeting, tried to get the votes they needed and failed.
“It's unbelievable this is horrible. I'm angry. I'm sad for my friend the speaker and I'm sad for the country,” said Ohio Rep. Steven Latourette.
‘Plan B’ looks dead.
Democrats gloated at Boehner's failure.
"It was a bad plan but he couldn't even sell his bad plan to the very extreme members of his own caucus," said Maryland Rep. Chris van Hollen.
Earlier this week, a Boehner/Obama compromise looked just a few billion dollars from getting done.
"They are soooo close! What is the speaker waiting for," asked New York Sen. Charles Schumer.
Now, Boehner's learned his House republicans might reject any tax hike.
Republicans will regroup. Go home for Christmas. And not get back 'til late next week, with the fiscal cliff just days away.