Exclusive – Speaker Boehner on Budget Negotiations: ‘No Daylight Between Tea Party and Me’

By Kate McCarthy

Apr 6, 2011 6:29pm

Speaker of the House John Boehner said he is in lockstep with the Tea Party on budget negotiations despite claims from Democrats that there could be a deal if only he could buck the Tea Party.

“Listen, there’s no daylight between the Tea Party and me,” Boehner told me today during our exclusive interview.

“None?” I asked

“None. What they want is they want us to cut spending. They want us to deal with this crushing debt that’s going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids. There’s no daylight there,” he said.

Democrats have accused Boehner of being pulled further back by the Tea Party and “moving the goal post” during negotiations by increasing his demand from $33 billion in cuts to $40 billion.

I asked Boehner if he was willing to go as far as prominent Tea Party member Rep. Mike Pence who said “shut it down” if Democrats don’t agree to additional cuts.

The Speaker said he has Pence’s full support.

“Well, Mike Pence stood up at our conference today and said, 'Mr. Speaker, I’m with you.'"

But in a statement released after my interview with the Speaker, Congressman Pence made it clear that his support is qualified – just for the one-week CR, not a broader compromise:

“While I am frustrated that liberals in the Senate continue to resist our efforts to include even modest cuts in this year's budget, I will support a one-week Continuing Resolution because the troops come first. H.R. 1363 will fully fund the Department of Defense for the rest of this fiscal year and will reduce spending by $12 billion,” Pence wrote in the statement.

“We cannot put fiscal battles ahead of support for those who are fighting America’s real battles.

“We will not change the fiscal destiny of this nation without a fight. I am willing to keep fighting for one more week to ensure our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to get the job done and come home safe.

“I urge my colleagues in the Senate to enact the significant budget cuts in this resolution, fund our troops and join with us in changing the fiscal direction of the national government,” Pence concluded.

Tune into "GMA" tomorrow at 7am ET/PT for more of my exclusive interview with Speaker Boehner.

George Stephanopoulos

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