Boehner on Conservative Lobbying Groups: 'I Don't Care What They Do' on Budget Bill
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood by his criticism of conservative PACs and lobbying groups today, saying that he's standing up for conservatives who want to work toward deficit reduction.
Boehner was asked Wednesday about conservative PACs and lobbying groups, including Heritage Action, that have come out in opposition to the Ryan-Murray agreement.
“You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?” he shot back. “They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous.”
Today, he was asked at a press conference if his comments meant he'd be more open to compromise and less likely to listen to lobbying groups.
"Listen, I take my fair share of criticism from the right and from the left. You know, I came here to fight for a smaller, less costly, more accountable federal government. And this budget agreement takes giant steps in the right direction," Boehner said.
"It's not everything I wanted, but when groups come out and criticize an agreement that they've never seen, you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are," he added.
"And so yesterday when the criticism was coming, frankly I thought was my job and my obligation to stand up for conservatives here in the Congress who want more deficit reduction, stand up for the work that Chairman Ryan did. He did good work on behalf of the American people. It's not everything we wanted, but our job is to find enough common ground to move the ball down the field on behalf of the American people who sent us here to do their work."
Boehner was asked if this was a sign that he's "finally saying no to the Tea Party."
"Listen, this bill, this budget bill, gets us more deficit reduction than what we have under the Budget Control Act. I came here to cut the size of government. That's exactly what this bill does," he replied. "And why conservatives wouldn't vote for this or criticize the bill is beyond any recognition I can come up with."
Of certain conservative groups, the speaker said, "Frankly, I think they're misleading their followers."
"I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility. You know, they pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government," he continued.
"Most of you know, my members know, that wasn't exactly the strategy that I had in mind. But if you'll recall the day before the government reopened, one of the people -- one of these groups stood up and said, well, we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me?"
Boehner said he's "as conservative as anybody around this place."
"And all the things that we've done over the three years that I've been speaker have not violated any conservative principle, not once," he added.
When asked if he wanted the conservative groups to stand down, he shot back, "I don't care what they do."
"It's just that there just comes a point when some people step over the line. You know, when you criticize something and you have no idea what you're criticizing, it undermines your credibility."