'This Week' Transcript: House Speaker John Boehner


BOEHNER: Absolutely not. It's time for us to sit down and have a conversation. That's what the American people expect. That's what I've offered for the last ten days. Let's sit down and have a conversation. You know, we've had conversations before. Why can't we have one here?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even some of your own members are saying this is not your strategy. One of your colleagues, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California, was asked, what is the House strategy right now? He said, "listen, you really have to call Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz. I'm not even joking about that. He is the one that set up the strategy." Even one of your own colleagues is saying this is not your strategy, Speaker Boehner. It's the strategy of Senator Ted Cruz and other House (inaudible).

BOEHNER: I thought the fight would be over the debt ceiling. But you know, working with my members, they decided, well, let's do it now. And the fact is, this fight was going to come, one way or the other. We're in the fight. We don't want to shut the government down. We've passed bills to pay the troops. We have passed bills to make sure the federal employees know that they're going to be paid throughout this. We passed other bills.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why should the federal government employees get paid if they're not going to work? Wouldn't it be better for them to come to work and have the government open?

BOEHNER: The last 17 times the government was shut down, the federal employees were paid for the time they were off. This is all about fairness. It's not their fault that the leaders in Washington won't sit down and have a conversation. So why should they be punished?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You told me a couple of years ago that members of Congress shouldn't be paid during government shutdowns. Yet, they are being paid.

BOEHNER: Listen, I've asked my pay to be withheld during this. And so have a lot of my colleagues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How is this going to end? You're clearly not budging right now, even though you are taking -- even though polls show that most Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown right now. How long is it going to go on? Is the government going to stay shut down until we reach the debt limit deadline of October 17th?

BOEHNER: Listen, the debt limit is right around the corner. The president is saying, I won't negotiate. I won't have a conversation. Even though, President Reagan negotiated with Democrats who controlled the Congress back then. Even though President George Herbert Walker Bush had a conversation about raising the debt limit. During the Clinton administration, there were three fights over the debt limit. You and I participated in several of those. And even President Obama himself in 2011, went through a negotiation.

Now, he's saying no. I'm not going to do this.

I'm going to tell you what, George. The nation's credit is at risk because of the administration's refusal to sit down and have a conversation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're saying it's at risk because of your refusal to pass a clean debt limit. There have been some reports--

BOEHNER: We're not going to pass a clean debt limit increase.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Under no circumstances?

BOEHNER: I told the president, there's no way we're going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.

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