The House is not packing it in for the year, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) insisted on Thursday as he sought to rebut complaints from Democrats that Republicans are scheduling little more than political votes ahead of the midterm elections.
“We do have quite a few things left to do,” Boehner said at his weekly Capitol Hill press conference, listing a handful of priority items that included a new highway bill and reauthorizations of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program and the Export-Import Bank.
And on Friday the House will vote on a bill that combines a delay of ObamaCare’s individual insurance mandate with a permanent fix to the Medicare reimbursement rate for doctors. That bill, too, is unlikely to become law, with Democrats complaining that Republicans ruined a bipartisan, bicameral compromise by throwing in an ObamaCare “poison pill.”
"Nothing is going on on the floor,” Pelosi said. “But a great deal o advocacy is going on outside the chamber, and outside the Capitol. ... The only place that nothing is happening is here."
She said Republicans were “failing to address the urgent priorities of the American people.”
Asked about the charge, Boehner was nonplussed.
“If I was the minority leader, I’d make the same noise, and if I was the White House, I’d make the same noise,” said the Speaker, who served as minority leader when Pelosi had the gavel.
He said the Democratic complaints were typical for an election year.
“Listen, there are two things that go on here: Public policy, and because we do it in a political setting, you’ve got politics going on,” Boehner said. “And you know I might add that it’s an even-numbered year. Why wouldn’t people be throwing noise around? We’re got serious work to do, and we’re at it.”
Boehner said Republicans plan to put a budget resolution on the floor this spring, and he voiced optimism that Congress would pass annual appropriations bills following December’s bipartisan budget agreement.
Asked about other priorities, the Speaker also mentioned immigration reform and replacing the healthcare law as items he wanted to tackle, although both are expected to be heavy lifts within his party and unlikely to make it into law in 2014.
“We don’t have to manufacture noise to do our job,” he said.
Mike Lillis contributed.