House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday said he can’t imagine changing his position on gay marriage even though a prominent Republican in the Senate did just that.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” the top Republican in the House said that fellow Ohioan Sen. Rob Portman had every right to change his own position with respect to same-sex marriage.
“Listen, I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Boehner told interviewer Martha Raddatz “It's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And — I can't imagine that position would ever change.”
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Portman on Friday became the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage — and his switch set off a discussion among many conservatives. In an essay published on Friday in the Columbus Dispatch, he said that his reversal was based on he and his wife, Jane, learning two years ago that their son, Will, 21, was gay.
Describing Portman as a “great friend” and “long-time ally,” Boehner said that the senator called him to discuss the issue.
“I appreciate that he's decided to change — his views on this. But I believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman,” according to Boehner.
Meanwhile, the fight between Democrats and Republicans over how to address the nation’s fiscal health continues even after a week of meetings between President Barack Obama and Republicans on Capitol Hill, Boehner said. The House speaker also said he "absolutely" trusts President Barack Obama — not that they don't have their differences.
Boehner noted that the two have a good relationship and that they're "open with each other . . . honest with each other." But the lawmaker says they're trying to bridge some big differences.
One issue they agree on: The U.S. doesn't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt.
Some conservatives criticized Obama when he said last week that the country doesn't have an immediate debt crisis.
Boehner says a debt crisis does loom in the years ahead because entitlement programs are not sustainable if they aren't changed. He says balancing the budget will help the economy.
“It’s always a good thing to engage in more conversation,” Boehner, told Raddatz. “But when you get down to the bottom line, the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”
Obama urged Democrats to be open to revisions in entitlement programs and pressed Republicans to put increases in revenue onto the negotiating table in the meetings with lawmakers in his Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-led House throughout the week of March 11.
Lawmakers plan to move forward this week on competing fiscal 2014 budget blueprints as the White House continues to push for a broader agreement that would help economic recovery.
“I don’t know whether we can come to a big agreement,” Boehner said in the ABC interview. “If we do, it’ll be between the two parties on Capitol Hill. Hopefully we can go to conference on these budgets, and hope springs eternal in my mind.”
Alan Krueger, the Obama administration’s chief economist, said in a March 15 Bloomberg Television interview that economic growth would be in the range of 2 percent to 3 percent this year. He also said that agreement in Congress that removed the immediate threat of default has helped boost the stock market, and emphasized an improving economy.
The Senate budget proposal laid out last week by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, would generate almost $1 trillion in new revenue while protecting Medicare and expanding Medicaid healthcare coverage for more low-income Americans.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, last week proposed a plan for balancing the government’s books in 10 years by cutting $4.6 trillion.
Further cuts to the nation’s budget deficit will occur if lawmakers don’t act to reverse the sequestration that went into effect on March 1, with $85 billion in automatic spending cuts this year alone. Republicans are pressing for a deal that would restructure entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare.
While the cuts have drawn criticism across the federal government, lawmakers have few pathways for major changes. The reductions total $1.2 trillion over nine years. Government agencies as diverse as the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration are planning employee furloughs and cutbacks to adjust to the new funding levels.
The Obama administration has urged lawmakers to come to an agreement that would avert, or reshape, the spending cuts. Krueger, in the Bloomberg Television interview, said that the cuts would reduce economic growth by 0.6 percentage points.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the economy will lose 750,000 jobs this year if the automatic spending cuts stay in effect through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis,” Boehner said on Sunday. “But we all know that we have one looming. And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable.”
The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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