Showdown: House GOP set to defeat Senate payroll-tax bill after Reid says he won't negotiate further; Update: Boehner cancels House vote

No vote tonight, as it turns out. Supposedly the GOP caucus didn’t want to shoot down the Senate bill “in the dark of night,” but it may be that Boehner’s worried he might not have the votes yet to defeat Reid’s bill if he brought it to the floor. He claims that he does but Democrats think otherwise. Or maybe the strategy is to simply buy a little more time for negotiations with Reid? Not sure that’ll work: As of a few hours ago, Reid was saying that he’d said all he had to say:

Previously, Boehner had asked Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to devise a deal on the bill, and Reid suggested that the bill’s failure in the House was a product of Boehner’s failed leadership.

“Senator McConnell and I negotiated a compromise at Speaker Boehner’s request. I will not re-open negotiations until the House follows through and passes this agreement that was negotiated by Republican leaders, and supported by 90 percent of the Senate,” Reid said. “This is a question of whether the House of Representatives will be able to fulfill the basic legislative function of passing an overwhelmingly bipartisan agreement, in order to protect the economic security of millions of middle-class Americans. Democratic and Republican leaders negotiated a compromise and Speaker Boehner should not walk away from it, putting middle-class families at risk of a thousand-dollar tax hike just because a few angry Tea Partiers raised their voices to the Speaker.”

Reid says he’s happy to negotiate on a one-year payroll-tax holiday — but only after the two-month temporary extension, which by the way is unworkable, passes the House. Pelosi’s balking too, vowing not to appoint any Democrats to any House/Senate conference committee that would attempt to merge the two chambers’ bills. Presumably they think Boehner doesn’t have the votes and by walking away now they can pressure him to pass the Senate bill over conservatives’ objections. Question: How exactly did it come to be that McConnell got most of the GOP caucus in the Senate to sign onto a bill that Boehner later felt free to renege on? Did McConnell negotiate the two-month extension on his own, before clearing it with Boehner, or did Boehner sign off on it and then get cold feet when House Republicans started pounding the table? This is a strange predicament, with Reid waving around a bill that got 89 votes in the upper chamber.

Update: Change of plans: The House vote hasn’t been postponed until tomorrow, it’s been canceled entirely.

House Republicans will prevent a vote on a Senate plan favored by Democrats and Senate Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Monday night.

GOP aides told CNN that the vote expected to take place Tuesday morning would likely be scrapped to avoid having House Republicans oppose a tax break for working Americans.

So, new theory then: Boehner does have the votes and … is afraid to use them because he thinks Democrats will surely win the messaging war if the Senate bill is defeated and a stalemate results. Somehow they need to vote the Senate bill down without, er, actually voting it down. How to do that? Roll Call:

[L]eadership indicated to Members they would look to provide them with a way to cast a yes vote Tuesday and not force them to vote against the bipartisan deal. Although at press time it was unclear what that meant, leaders were reportedly discussing using an unorthodox procedure in which they forgo the normal vote of disapproval of the Senate deal and simply consider a vote to appoint conferees as counting as disapproval, aides said.

Additionally, Republicans were expected to vote on a majority resolution that will be offered after the procedural votes are completed.

That resolution, worded in harshly partisan language, is nothing more than a reiteration of the bill the House passed last week that the Senate changed.

In other words, instead of killing the Senate bill, they’ll simply reiterate their approval of the yearlong payroll-tax holiday they’ve already passed so that they technically can’t be accused of blocking a tax cut. Okay. Now what?