House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday blasted President Barack Obama for reportedly eyeing a government shutdown this fall unless Republicans bend on their budgetary demands. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
WASHINGTON — It’s déjà vu all over again in Washington.
House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday blasted President Barack Obama for reportedly eyeing a government shutdown this fall unless Republicans bend on their budgetary demands.
Responding to a Washington Post report that White House officials now believe in allowing the government to shut down if there is no agreement on a debt-ceiling hike in a few months, the GOP speaker used a Friday statement to bash Obama and Senate Democrats.
“Well, now we know why the president won’t dismiss the idea of a government shutdown — his White House is busy mapping out a strategy that could make one happen,” Boehner said.
Any hopes that this week’s White House-Boehner alliance to defeat a House amendment that could have ended a controversial NSA anti-terrorism surveillance program might help foster progress on budgetary and spending issues seem to have dissolved.
Boehner called emergence of a shutdown option “consistent with recent administration threats to veto any spending bill unless Congress agrees to the president’s demand for a broader budget deal with higher taxes and higher spending — the type of explicit threat to shut down the government rarely seen in Washington.”
The latest Boehner-White House spat matters for the quest to replace sequestration with a broader fiscal package.
To that end, Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told Defense News this month that any big fiscal package must be worked out by Obama, Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Senior Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats have long said future federal budget deals will have to be “balanced,” meaning built around new spending cuts, closed tax loopholes and increased tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Democrats say this kind of approach is the proper way to pare the massive US deficit.
The speaker highlighted comments on sequestration made by Obama on March 1. “There’s no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts,” Obama said at that time.
He called the alleged White House strategy change a “radical reversal for the president,” and charged Democrats with not being interested in undoing the twin $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending set to kick in over the next decade without a “grand bargain” fiscal deal.
A White House Office of Management and Budget spokesman did not respond to a reporter’s request for comment on Boehner’s statement as of Friday at noon.
“Senate Democrats have passed no legislation to replace the sequester, and the president has put no pressure on his party to do so,” Boehner said. “If the president truly wanted to replace the arbitrary cuts he insisted on, he would work with the House to enact smarter spending cuts and reforms that strengthen our economy.”