ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
Although he admits the bipartisan agreement to fund the government through the end of the year is “not perfect” and “no cause for celebration,” House Speaker John Boehner predicted the bill would pass with a bipartisan majority later today and said it was just the first step Republicans are taking to cut spending.
“It was a bipartisan agreement to cut this spending, and while we had to drag them kicking and screaming to the table, we finally secured these budget cuts from them, and I believe that it will pass with a bipartisan majority today,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “These are real cuts, and signal to job creators that we’re serious about stopping Washington’s spending binge.”
A short while later, the No. 2 House Democrat – Minority Whip Steny Hoyer – announced he will vote for the continuing resolution.
“After hard negotiations with strongly-held beliefs on both sides, a bipartisan deal was reached on a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Hoyer, D-Maryland, stated. “On the whole, my belief is that this measure should pass. We must keep the government open, and it is time to move on and address other pressing issues like job creation and the budget for next year.”
Hoyer’s support is surely enough to provide political cover for a sizeable block of moderate Democrats to support the deal as well.
Earlier today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would not commit her vote either way, but said House Democrats were not part of the agreement or negotiations so she feels “no ownership” to the bipartisan agreement reached by President Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner.
Pelosi said members of the Democratic Caucus were free do make their own decisions on the bill, but predicted Republicans have enough support to pass it on their own. If they don’t she said she suspected enough Democrats would cross the aisle to help pass the bill.
“We have not whipped it. We have not encouraged one way or the other,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “People are just making their own judgment about it because it is a – you’re talking about subjects that people know a great deal about but they all do want to keep government open.”
Boehner was asked whether a potential Republican backlash signals discontent in the Republican Conference over a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office that says the deal saves just $352 million through the end of the year.
“Certainly it has caused some confusion, but let’s understand that we’re cutting $38.5 billion of money that has already been authorized and appropriated, and anybody that doesn’t believe this money wouldn’t be spent if we don’t act is kidding themselves. Because this is real money and these are real cuts,” Boehner said. “Washington will spending $78.5 billion less than what the president wanted to spend for this year. Remember, President Obama started this year by calling for zero spending cuts, and now we’re cutting $315 billion over the next 10 years and there’s more to come.”
Boehner said the president’s speech Wednesday outlining his fiscal vision for the future was “more of the same: a partisan speech about the need for more spending, more taxing and more borrowing.” and downplayed the president’s idea for a new bipartisan, bicameral commission to analyze the country’s looming debt crisis.
“We’ve heard a pitch again yesterday about the need for another commission, even though the president utterly ignored the last one,” Boehner said. “I don’t know how they’re going to proceed. I don’t think anybody around the table reacted very well to setting up a 16-member commission to have this conversation. And they seem to have taken that into account. I hope they take that off the table. It’s time to get serious.”
As Boehner marked his 100th day as Speaker of the House, he was asked to reflect on the House Republican Conference’s job performance and to grade his leadership so far as speaker.
“We’ve done fine, but I think the biggest accomplishment of the first 100 days of our majority is this: the spending debate in Washington has turned 180 degrees,” Boehner said. “When we started this year, the president wanted no spending cuts,…and look at where the debate is today. We’re going to take a step today to cut $78.5 billion for the spending below what the president would have spent. We’re going to save $315 billion over the next 10 years. The largest spending cut in the history of our country.”
“Even the debate that will start later on today and continue tomorrow on the long-term crisis and making sure that we save programs like Medicare and Medicaid, this debate is really shifted 180 degrees,” Boehner added. “I really do believe that this shift in debate is the biggest accomplishment we’ve made thus far.”
Boehner was asked about the president insisting he would not sign another extension of the Bush tax cuts and whether there was room for compromise on the issue.
“I heard that a year ago, but he did,” Boehner said of the president’s position before an agreement was reached last December to extend the Bush-era tax cuts through the end of 2012. “Raising taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and create jobs is the wrong move. Washington does not have a revenue problem. Washington has a spending problem."
Pelosi signaled a policy shift when she said she could support maintaining tax rates for earners between $250,000 and $999,999 in exchange for returning to Clinton-era tax rates for taxpayers earning more than $1 million per year.
“Just to take us to the next scenario, which seems to be a place to tax the well-to-do or not, let’s just clear up to $1 million,” Pelosi said. “I’m willing to put that on the table.”