Boehner calls for short-term fix to avoid government shutdown

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said Congress should pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government from shutting down Oct. 1.

The Speaker acknowledged that Congress was unlikely to complete the 12 appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year in September and called for a continuing resolution (CR) to carry the government for “some short period of time.”

“Having said that, the idea of operating for an entire year under a CR is not a good way to do business, and I’ve been working with Chairman [Hal] Rogers to try to find a way to do all of these appropriations bills,” Boehner said at a Capitol news conference. “I think it’s important for Congress to do its work.”

Boehner also said an appropriations bill that was pulled from the House floor on Wednesday would be brought back up in September.

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The decision to yank a spending bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) prompted a stinging response from the Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky.), who charged that the bill lacked the votes to pass.

But Boehner said Republicans were lacking in time, not support.

“I believe that the votes would have been there for the THUD bill,” Boehner said, “but we had some 50 amendments that we had to consider on that bill and considering everything else that we’ve got going on this week, we decided that finishing this bill in September was the right step at this moment. But I have full confidence that the votes would have been there to pass that bill.”

In his statement Wednesday, Rogers effectively accused his fellow Republicans of being unwilling to follow through on the deep spending cuts they passed in the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago,” Rogers said. “Thus, I believe that the House has made its choice: Sequestration — and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts — must be brought to an end.”

The Speaker said he met with Rogers and members of the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and told them he would continue to work with them to pass spending bills.

“Listen, the appropriators, they’ve had a tough job over the last couple of years, and they’ve taken a lot of tough votes in their committee,” Boehner said. “So I understand the frustration that they’re dealing with.”

Yet the Speaker said sequestration wasn’t going away anytime soon and blamed President Obama for being unwilling to negotiate a deal that would replace the cuts with entitlement reforms.

“But I just want to make clear: Sequestration is going to remain in effect until the president agrees to cuts and reforms that will allow us to remove it,” he said. “If they want the sequester to go, they’re going to have to get serious about our long-term spending problem.”

Boehner rejected the suggestion from Democrats that Republican leaders had lost control of their conference.

“I’m not the least bit concerned about what some might want to describe as perception,” he said.

The Speaker chalked up the frustrations among some of his members to the fact that they are tired and want to return to their districts.

“It’s August. Members have been at it for a while,” he said. “Sometimes they get a bit frustrated. They got a bit frustrated yesterday.”