Boehner blasts Senate Dems for standoff

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday accused Senate Democrats of holding up year-end agreements on the farm bill and the budget.

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“It is time for the other chamber to get serious about getting its work done,” Boehner said after a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference.

The Speaker said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had each made multiple serious offers to their Democratic counterparts on House-Senate conference committees on the farm bill and budget, respectively. But in both cases, Boehner said, “we can’t get Senate Democrats to say 'yes.' ”

A five-year farm bill and a two-year budget agreement are two of the major issues that congressional leaders want to resolve before lawmakers head home for the year.

Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are said to be relatively close on the contours of an agreement that would replace some of the sequestration cuts over the next two years. A deal would also forestall a government shutdown fight early next year.

Murray spokesman Eli Zupnick replied, "Chairman Murray continues to work with Chairman Ryan and is hopeful they can reach a bipartisan budget deal."

Boehner on Tuesday also defended the House against the “do nothing” label that Democrats have increasingly sought to affix to Republican leaders over their inaction on immigration and other priorities that the Senate has acted on.

Congress is set to pass the smallest number of laws in recent memory for 2013.

“The House continues to listen to the American people and to focus on their concerns,” Boehner said. "Whether it’s the economy; whether it’s jobs; whether it’s protecting the American people from ObamaCare, we’ve done our work. But if you look at the number of bills passed by the House and the paltry number of bills passed by the Senate, you can see where the problem is.”

The Speaker pointed to the fact that the House had passed several annual appropriations bills, while the Senate has passed none. But the legislation passed by the Senate, such as the immigration overhaul, has, in many cases, been more far-reaching than the more modest Republicans proposals advanced by the House.

Boehner was also pressed on whether the House GOP planned to bring its own healthcare reform to the floor in 2014. “We’ll see,” he replied.