Boehner Slams Conservative Groups for Attacking Budget Deal

Image: Boehner Slams Conservative Groups for Attacking Budget Deal

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 10:36 PM

By Cathy Burke

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House Speaker John Boehner publicly chastised conservative groups for bad-mouthing a proposed two-year budget deal "before they even saw it" — and privately urged lawmakers to resist the outside pressure, The Hill reported Wednesday.
 
After a GOP meeting on the eve of an expected vote on the pact, the Ohio Republican accused conservative groups of "using our members and . . . the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous!"

"If you're for more deficit reduction, you're for this agreement," he said, the Washington Post reported. 

To drive home his point, Boehner interrupted a question about conservative groups' displeasure, lashing out at "the groups who came out and opposed this before they even saw it," The Hill reported.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who negotiated the deal for Republicans, echoed Boehner's concern, telling The Hill it was "strange" that those groups "came out in opposition to an agreement even before we reached an agreement."

In private, too, Boehner was "very clear" about lawmakers' need to resist outside influence, Republican Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack told The Hill, reminding House Republicans: "There is only person who controls the voting cards of the member of Congress, and that is the member of Congress."

A second lawmaker at the same meeting told The Hill that Boehner essentially accused the outside conservatives of being more interested in raising money than in conservative principles.

The speaker's anger was directed at groups that bashed the proposed deal for eliminating sequestration spending cuts and then suggested they'd hold GOP lawmakers responsible if they voted for the deal. 

The activists included Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, whose vice president of public policy, Dean Clancy, told Newsmax on Tuesday: "We strongly oppose it, and we are urging our members across the country to help us defeat it."

The heads of Heritage Action, the Family Research Council, and the American Conservative Union all complained in a letter that the proposed deal doesn't show enough "spending restraint," the National Journal reported. 

On Wednesday, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola dismissed Boehner's tongue-lashing and remained critical of the proposed deal.

"This proposal swaps debt reduction today and next year for the dubious promise of debt reduction a decade from now," Chocola said.

One conservative lawmaker, Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, also rejected Boehner's denunciation, saying he wasn't for sale.

"If anyone thinks that I am bought and paid for by Heritage Action . . . they are sadly mistaken," Labrador told The Hill, asserting that outside groups were leaked information about the deal — and the information was correct.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told The Hill that "the role of outside groups is still important."

"Their mission is a lot different than ours," he said. "A lot of times, we're all working in the same direction. Sometimes we're not, but they've got a role to play, and I respect that."

The Hill noted that the study committee fired executive director Paul Teller after learning he'd leaked private member communications to outside groups.


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