Boehner confident on getting budget deal, but admits it won’t be easy
House Speaker John Boehner, facing somewhat of a revolt in Republican ranks, says “it is not going to be easy” to craft and win passage of a bipartisan deal to cut spending and fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year.
But the top U.S. Republican said he remains confident that it will be done — somehow, some way.
“We never thought it was going to be easy,” Boehner said a day after the House passed a short-term funding bill that 54 of his 240 House Republican colleagues opposed.
Many of these Republicans — some veteran conservatives along with a number of newly elected lawmakers backed by the Tea Party — voted no because they felt that the $6 billion in proposed cuts over three weeks are woefully inadequate.
They also worry that the major policy changes they’re hoping to attach to a spending-cut bill this year will be thrown overboard. They include preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and stopping implementation of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
The Senate is expected to give final congressional approval to the House-passed measure by Friday, clearing the way for Obama to sign it into law. The House, Senate and the White House would then have until April 8 to reach agreement on another funding measure or face a government shutdown.
Democrats are hoping that Boehner leaves his Tea Party activists behind and cuts a deal with moderates to fund the government through Sept. 30.
Boehner makes it clear that he wants to find common ground, keep the government operating and spur economic growth.
“We’re in conversations with the White House, with the Senate,” Boehner said. “We would like to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”
House Republicans have demanded $61 billion in cuts for this fiscal year while Senate Democrats have favored reductions totaling about $10 billion — though they have said that they are willing to compromise.
Boehner said Republicans have already made progress in their push to shrink government and the federal deficit. He noted that the $6 billion in cuts in the House bill would be atop the $4 billion in reductions that were in a two-week funding bill approved by Congress earlier this month.
“When was the last time you saw the government here in Washington cut anything?” Boehner asked.
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Boehner at Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 10, 2011)