WASHINGTON – Speaker John Boehner is embarking on his final month in Congress by moving to complete unfinished business and vowing not to leave his successor with a politically gridlocked House.
The Ohio Republican says a spending bill to keep the government running will pass and there will be no shutdown when money runs out at midnight Wednesday. Beyond that, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday he expects “I might have a little more cooperation from some around town to try to get as much finished as possible.”
“I don’t want to leave my successor a dirty barn,” he said. Among issues still to be settled: a transportation bill, tax breaks and whether to raise the government’s debt limit.
The interview was Boehner’s first after announcing Friday that he would resign from Congress at the end of October. The timing, he said, was clarified after spending the day with Pope Francis and designed to help avert a government shutdown. But even as he looked forward, Boehner harked back to the faction of his party that he ultimately could not control.
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Boehner unloaded against conservatives long outraged that even with control of both houses of Congress, Republicans have not succeeded on key agenda items, such as repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and striking taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood. He refused to back down from calling one of the tea party-styled leaders, presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz, a “jackass.”
“Absolutely they’re unrealistic,” Boehner said. “The Bible says, ‘Beware of false prophets.’ And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done.”
Boehner’s resignation announcement Friday stunned Washington but was long in the making after years of turmoil with the same House conservatives who propelled the GOP into the House majority on a tea party-style, cut-it-or-shut it platform. Without Boehner, the job of leading divided congressional Republicans falls more heavily on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who declared nearly a year ago that the GOP’s prospects of reclaiming the White House depends substantially on showing the party can govern.
The announcement of Boehner’s resignation rippled through the slate of 2016 presidential candidates competing for support among the GOP’s core Republicans. As Boehner let out the word to House Republicans Friday morning, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio relayed the news to a conference of conservatives – who erupted in triumphant hoots. Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina were among the GOP candidates who said Boehner’s departure showed it was time for the party to move on.
Fiorina suggested that McConnell’s leadership, too, has been unsatisfactory.
“I hope now that we will move on and have leadership in both the House and the Senate that will produce results,” Fiorina said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Boehner, “a great public servant.”
“I think people are going to miss him in the long run, because he’s a person that is focused on solving problems,” Bush said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Boehner’s resignation announcement came as congressional Republicans faced a familiar standoff in their own ranks over whether to insist on their demands in exchange for passage of a federal budget – the same dynamic that led to the partial government shutdown of 2013. For nearly a year, McConnell, now the Senate’s Republican majority leader, has insisted there would be no repeat, even as conservatives dug in.
“We told people to give us the Senate and things would be different. We told them back in 2010, give us the House and things will be different,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-N.C., on “Fox News Sunday.” ‘'Things are not that different.”
Retorted Boehner on CBS:
“We have got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town, who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know – they know – are never going to happen.”