Boehner: House rules make spending too easy, cuts difficult

House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) will say House budget rules should be reformed to curb federal spending in an address at a conservative think-tank Friday. 

The top-ranking House Republican will outline his suggested institutional reforms in a detailed speech at the American Enterprise Institute. The speech is intended to highlight how BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE would run the House on budgetary issues as Speaker. 


Boehner will argue that current House rules make it easy for lawmakers to spend money and difficult to make budget cuts. In particular, he says that the Budget Act of 1974, which mandates that Congress produces an annual budget, needs major reform.

Boehner will argue that Congress "routinely" waives the Budget Act’s requirements "to serve our purposes."

"Can’t write a budget? Just waive the rule and move on. No harm, no foul. The ‘pay as you go’ rule has been repeatedly ignored to justify billions of dollars in new spending and tax and fee increases.

"So we ought to start at square one and give serious consideration to revisiting, and perhaps rewriting, the 1974 Budget Act," Boehner said, according to excerpts of the speech available to reporters.

House Democrats failed to produce a budget this year; it is the first time since the 1974 Budget Act was adopted that the House didn't provide a budget.

In addtion, Boehner will advocate for separate spending bills for each government agency and department. As it stands, the appropriations process lumps several departments together into one package. For example, the Labor Department's budget is included in a spending package that also includes funding for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Boehner says that practice needs to stop.

“I propose today a different approach. Let’s do away with the concept of ‘comprehensive’ spending bills. Let’s break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit," he says.

"For decades, the word ‘comprehensive’ has been used as a positive adjective in Washington. I would respectfully submit that those days are behind us. The American people are not well-served by ‘comprehensive.’ In an era of trillion-dollar deficits, we need a tighter focus; one that places an emphasis on getting it right, and less emphasis on getting it done quickly."

Boehner's speech is slated for 2 p.m. Eastern time and will be carried live by C-SPAN.

The White House issued a pre-buttal on Thursday morning to Boehner's expected message.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on a White House blog that Boehner's speech was full of empty promises.

"We are interested to hear what Rep. Boehner has to say, but given the track record of congressional Republicans over the past two years and the lack of real reform in their new agenda, we sincerely hope we’ll hear some substantive proposals this time around. But please excuse us for being more than a little skeptical that this is anything other than a brief election-year conversion," he wrote on the White House blog. "One thing is already clear: They haven’t changed, so they won’t bring the change we need.

"Despite their talk about ending 'backroom deals' and their promises of transparency, congressional Republicans have repeatedly shown that they still pay more attention to lobbyists than they do to the American people."