If the gap had only been four or five votes, Boehner and his team would have kept pushing, pressing, making their case.
Boehner decided to make the announcement at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans in a room in the basement of the Capitol.
With Cantor at his side Boehner delivered a short statement.
“He said something that I thought was profound,” Fleming said. “Basically, he said the collective wisdom of two people locked in a room can never be as high or as great as the collective wisdom of 535 individuals,” the combined membership of the House and Senate.
Then, Fleming said, Boehner declared: “‘We don’t have votes,’” and “We are adjourning and would return right after Christmas or right after New Year’s, depending on the circumstances.”
“There were gasps. People were stunned,” Cole said, adding that many members had expected instead a final pep talk before a vote on the bill.
A day after a Republican revolt killed his tax plan, Boehner was asked if he was worried about losing his job as speaker.
“No, I am not,” Boehner told reporters.
“If you do the right things every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen,” he said.