After a “rough” week across the country, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both addressed tragedy and strategy in their weekly news conferences today, offering their condolences to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and the West, Texas, explosion.
“Words alone cannot console the loved ones, but we will do what we can to care for them,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “With the investigation ongoing, we will make sure that justice is done.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims and the people of Boston,” Boehner, R-Ohio, added. “[I'm] glad the president’s up there today, and I add my prayers to his.”
As the investigations in Boston and Texas proceed, inside the beltway Congress continues battling over a series of legislative showdowns.
Pelosi and her leadership team fired off a letter today to the speaker demanding that he appoint conferees to settle differences over the House and Senate-passed budgets.
“Right now the focus is on adopting a budget that reflects our country’s values, creates jobs and strengthens the middle class,” she said. “The Senate has passed its budget bill…and we’re overdue; April 15 was the deadline for us having a budget for a conference report.”
When asked whether he intends to comply with Pelosi’s request, Boehner encouraged bipartisan informal conversations to continue between House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray. The speaker predicted that the Democrats’ approach would only lead to further political warfare because under House rules, if conferees fail to reach an agreement within 20 legislative days, the minority is able to make procedural motions to score political points.
“The minority has the right to offer motions to instruct, which become politically motivated bombs that…show up on the House floor,” Boehner said. “We’re following what I would describe as regular order. These informal conversations are underway, and that’s the way it should work.”
Both Pelosi and Boehner also addressed ongoing immigration reform, and congratulated the Gang of Eight on creating a bipartisan compromise.
“I want to congratulate the Senate Gang of Eight for coming forward with their bill,” Boehner said. “I’m sure there’s parts of it I would agree with, parts that I would disagree with, but the fact is that they’ve worked together in a bipartisan fashion to craft this bill.”
Pelosi echoed the speaker’s sentiments, and admitted that while the bill was commendable, it is not a perfect agreement for either party.
“I feel very confident about how we go forward on the immigration bill. I commend the eight Senators for the work that they did,” she said. “Of course, it’s a compromise. Would I change things? Of course, but I do think that that’s what a compromise is about.”
Boehner also noted that reaching compromise legislation among a small group of members does not necessarily prepare every other lawmaker to act on the issue.
“You have to remember, about three-fourths of members of Congress have never dealt with the issue of immigration,” he said. “There’s a big learning curve that the members are going to have to go through.”