Boehner: GOP will avoid government shutdown, but won't rule it out

House Republicans do not intend to engineer a government shutdown similar to one that occurred in 1995 under GOP rule, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. 

Boehner, in an interview following the release of the House Republicans' "Pledge to America," said he would not rule out a government shutdown, but he would look to avoid it should his party take control of Congress in the fall.

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Asked by CNN if he would act to shut down the government if his conference could not agree with President Obama on spending, Boehner said "Our goal is to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government here in Washington, D.C. It's not to shut down the government."

Some Republican candidates and office-holders, such as Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.), have raised the specter of shutting down the government if their party comes to an impasse with the White House.

The idea has drawn comparisons to events of the year after Republicans swept into power in the House in 1994. Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and President Bill Clinton could not agree to pass a budget, closing non-essential government services for weeks.

Democrats pounced on the idea this time around, saying Republicans would take overly radical actions if voters put them into the majority.

Retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) this week called the idea of a GOP-led shutdown "absurd" and blamed the "left" and the "media" for creating the idea that Republicans would consider it.

Pressed by CNN as to whether the GOP would cave in the face of a government shutdown, Boehner said "We want a smaller, less costly and more accountable government in Washington and we're pledging to the American people that we will fight for that goal.

"I'm not going to get into...what ifs," Boehner added. "I'm hopeful that the president will sign it. You know, I was a born optimist."