Tags: Barack Obama | National Debt | Healthcare Reform | Obama | Boehner | caucus | control

Obama: Boehner 'Can't Control His Caucus'

Image: Obama: Boehner 'Can't Control His Caucus'

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 10:27 PM

By Todd Beamon

On a chaotic day in which two House Republican plans to end the fiscal stalemate in Washington failed, President Barack Obama charged on Tuesday that this "mess" has occurred because Speaker John Boehner "can't control his caucus."

"The problem that we've got is . . . Speaker Boehner, for example, him negotiating with me isn't necessarily good for the extreme faction in his caucus," Obama told WABC-TV in New York.

The president was referencing Republicans backed by the tea party who have pushed Boehner to link reopening the federal government and extending the nation's debt ceiling to legislation that would defund, delay or eliminate certain provisions of Obamacare.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here.

"It weakens him, so there have been repeated situations when we've had agreements, and he goes back — and it turns out that he can't control his caucus," Obama said.

"The challenge here is can you deliver on agreements that are made," he continued. "Are you able to come up with sensible, bipartisan compromises and deliver on them?

"One thing that I've shown is that, if I say, 'I am prepared to compromise on something,' I can deliver votes and we can get it done," Obama said.

Late Tuesday, the House scrapped a vote on a fiscal plan that contained almost none of Republicans’ initial conditions for ending the 15-day-old shutdown and raising the nation's borrowing authority.

"We’re going to be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions," said Rep. Pete Sessions, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Rules Committee. The panel put off a late-afternoon meeting, the first step before the legislation heads to the floor.

Boehner worked throughout the day to influence the outcome of the showdown before the nation’s borrowing authority lapses on Thursday.

Unlike previous stopgap spending legislation, the House bill would not make major changes in Obamacare, and it contained none of the cuts to entitlement programs many Republicans were seeking before they would agree to a debt-limit increase.

House Republicans have a 232-200 majority, and they would need all but about 15 GOP members to support a plan.

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California called the Boehner plan a path to default and urged the Ohio Republican to support an emerging bipartisan agreement in the Senate.

In addition, Fitch Ratings Service said that it had put the United States' AAA credit grade on "ratings watch negative," citing the government’s inability to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner.

The bill would keep the government open through Dec. 15 and suspend the debt limit until Feb. 7. It would prevent the government from making any contribution toward the health insurance of members of Congress and their staffs, the president, the vice president and high-ranking administration officials — and would require those elected officials and staff to obtain coverage through the Obamacare exchanges.

In his interview, Obama attributed the Capitol Hill stalemate to "just a faction of the Republican Party — it doesn't represent all Republicans — that had decided to take a very extreme position and to use very extreme tactics in order to get stuff done."

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here.

"The more moderate, reasonable members of the Republican Party up in Congress oftentimes have had difficulty in dealing with that faction — and what we've seen as a result is the mess we're seeing today," he said.

Despite being slammed by Republicans for not being willing to negotiate or compromise on issues throughout the talks, Obama told WABC:

"There's a lot of overlap between what I'm proposing and what Republicans have proposed in the past. I take their ideas all the time.

"What we haven't seen is a willingness on the other side to engage in the basic compromises that are required for governance," he said.

The president added that he was optimistic the situation could be resolved.

"My expectation is that it does get solved, but we don't have a lot of time," he said. "So, what I'm suggesting to congressional leaders is, let's not do any posturing, let's not try to save face, let's not worry about politics, do what's right."

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