Conservatives Question if Boehner, Republicans 'Have the Stomach' to Reject Budget Deal

Image: Conservatives Question if Boehner, Republicans 'Have the Stomach' to Reject Budget Deal

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 02:43 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The war of words inside the GOP over a proposed budget compromise escalated  Thursday, with tea party conservatives targeting House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans who support the deal and "don't have the stomach" to cut spending.

Heritage Action's Dan Holler said on Thursday that Republicans who support the budget plan unveiled Tuesday night "will have to explain to their constituents" their broken promises on taxes and spending.

And Club for Growth's Chris Chocola said "it should surprise no one" when GOP members who vote for the plan are challenged in future primaries.

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The salvos from the right came after Boehner, for the second day, blasted conservative groups for criticizing the budget deal "before they even saw it."

Boehner said Thursday that tea party groups were "misleading their followers."

A day earlier, the speaker said the groups were "using our members and they're using the American people for their own goals."

"This is ridiculous. Listen, if you are for more deficit reduction, you are for this agreement," he said Wednesday during a news conference at the Capitol, according to ABC News.

Boehner also pressed lawmakers to disregard pressure by conservative groups to go against the deal, and said in a closed-door meeting that the organizations "aren't acting out of principle, and they're not trying to enact conservative policies. They're using you to raise money and expand their own organization," Talking Points Memo reports.

The $85 billion budget compromise reached on Tuesday between GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state .

Ryan called the deal a "step in the right direction" that would avoid threats of another government shutdown in January, when current funding expires, and in October next year, when the next fiscal year starts.

Meanwhile, there is strong opposition to the deal among Republicans in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn and Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican conference, have all come out in opposition to the Ryan-Murray budget deal.

Conservative groups have urged Republicans to reject the plan and have reacted angrily to Boehner's comments, saying the current budget deal falls far short of achieving appropriate levels of spending cuts.

"Once again Republicans, led by John Boehner, are working with Democrats to increase spending yet again on the taxpayers' tab while promising 'savings' down the road," said FreedomWorks president and CEO Matt Kibbe, according to ABC News.

The Club for Growth issued a similar rebuke.

"Apparently, there are some Republicans who don't have the stomach for even relatively small spending reductions that are devoid of budgetary smoke and mirrors. If Republicans work with Democrats to pass this deal, it should surprise no one when Republican voters seek alternatives who actually believe in less spending when they go to the ballot box," said Club for Growth president Chris Chocola, according to The Washington Times.

Holler, of Heritage Action, said, "Americans are deeply concerned about the direction of the country. Over the next few days, lawmakers will have to explain to their constituents, many of whom are our members, what they've achieved by increasing spending, increasing taxes, and offering up another round of promises waiting to be broken. That will be a really tough sell back home. Meanwhile, we'll continue fighting to achieve our goal, which is to create an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish."

The first round of bickering started after several conservative groups issued negative statements about the proposals before the deal was announced. Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks first came out against the proposal.

Dean Clancy, vice president of FreedomWorks, told Newsmax on Tuesday, "We strongly oppose it, and we are urging our members across the country to help us defeat it."

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And 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.

Nevertheless, a number of conservative lawmakers are defending the comments of conservative groups, and have already indicated they will vote against the deal — among them, Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador.

"What is it that these outside groups said yesterday about this deal that is false today?" he asked, according to the LA Times.

But he added: "Anybody who thinks my vote is for sale to Heritage Action is sadly mistaken."

In a sign there may be yet another round of fighting, Boehner used a second news conference on Thursday to reinforce his view that attacks by conservative groups reflect a loss of credibility.

"Frankly, I think they are misleading their followers," the Ohio Republican told reporters on Thursday morning, according to Roll Call. "I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be, and frankly, I just think they've lost all credibility."

"You know, they pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare" this autumn, before the government shutdown. "...[It] wasn't the strategy I had in mind. The day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and said, 'Well, we never really thought it would work.'

"Are you kidding me?" Boehner said loudly.

Tea party conservatives have regularly challenged the GOP leadership to push for deeper spending cuts and repeal Obamacare, but after September's bruising fight over the budget bill, Boehner appears to have dug in his heels to steady his base while pursuing a less ideological, more pragmatic approach to achieving legislative goals.



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