Washington — At a press conference this morning, House Speaker John Boehner threw cold water on a potential deal with Senate Democrats to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. “Democrats are rooting for a government shutdown,” he said. “There is no agreement on a set of numbers.”
Last night, Vice President Joe Biden announced that party leaders had agreed to cut $33 billion from the federal budget. Boehner wagged his finger at the premature declaration. “You have heard a lot of talk over the last 24 hours,” he said. “Nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to.”
Boehner asserted that he wants to cut $61 billion from the federal budget, which is the number attached to the original House GOP spending plan that passed last month. “It is our position and we will continue to fight for everything that is in it,” he said. “We are going to continue to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get, to keep the government open and fund it through the balance of this fiscal year.”
Playing down expectations about how much the House leadership can shape any potential deal, he noted, “we control one-half of one-third of the government here in Washington. We can’t impose our will on another body, we can’t impose our will on the Senate. All we can do is fight for all of the spending cuts that we can get an agreement to, and to spending limitations as well.” At this point, he added, he is “not very interested” in breaking with the conservative position with regard to the $61 billion in proposed cuts.
Boehner then saluted the Tea Party activists who are congregating on Capitol Hill this afternoon to rally and hold Boehner to his pledge. “I am glad that they are here,” he said. “I am glad that they are engaged in the process. I said, over a year ago, that we should talk with the Tea Party folks, that we should listen to them, and that we should walk amongst them. I don’t feel any differently about that today.”
While noting his appreciation for the Tea Party, Boehner chuckled that he is “well aware” that there are critics that have differences with the House GOP’s position and strategy on spending. “There are a lot of people in Washington who want us to do a lot of different things,” he said.