House Speaker John Boehner smacked down tea party-allied groups who are opposing the proposed budget deal on Wednesday, signaling that this round of budget negotiations won’t be like the last.
Asked if he was concerned about the major conservative groups who have rejected the deal, Boehner lashed out.
“You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?” he asked. ”They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
And in one, terse response, Boehner made it clear that he’s done cowing to powerful conservative groups with strong tea party ties like Heritage Action that dragged the party into a 16-day shutdown just two months ago.
Congress may vote on Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan’s deal as soon as the end of this week. The compromise bill eases some of the sequester cuts for the next two years and cuts the deficit by $23 billion. It also removes the risk of a government shutdown.
But in return, it’s promising a serious GOP showdown. The deal pits Ryan and the House Republican leadership, who’ve signalled support of the bill, against the tea party’s biggest allies—Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity. The anti-tax Club for Growth, too, has signed onto this team.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing a tea party challenger in 2014, has not indicated if he will support the deal.
“The budget agreement struck by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray is a step backward,” declared Heritage Action’s Michael Needham in USA Today, condemning it as a bad deal that “forced the Party of Reagan to throw away spending cuts that could have been used as leverage for serious entitlement reforms or simply kept as savings for the hard-working American taxpayer.”
Tea party darling, Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio is siding with them.
“This budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans,” Rubio said in a statement.
And the party fractures even further when you consider fiscal conservatives like Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who oppose the bill but isn’t in cahoots with the tea party.
“I’m real disappointed in the deal,” Sen. Tom Coburn said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. “I’m sure it’s the best Paul could get, but it’s not anything I can support.”
“He has led to make a compromise that sells out what actually needs to be done,” he said.
“You called Paul Ryan a sellout!” former Bush spokesman Nicolle Wallace said.
“I didn’t say that,” Coburn countered. “He was told to lead a compromise. He said last night on the TV he doesn’t think people have to give up core values. We gave up core values. We called non-tax increases tax increases.”
Coburn slammed it as wasteful and lazy, saying Congress needed to “do the hard work” cutting waste, and duplication need to be aggressively targeted to achieve real savings. He returned to a regular refrain: Do we need 47 different job training programs?
“How about 3 or 4 instead of… 47?” he said. “How about eliminating all the overhead… you could save 9 or 10 billion a year!”
Those 47 different programs are run by nine federal agencies and have a combined budget of $18 million, according to Coburn’s office.
Former senior adviser to the president, David Axelrod, agreed with Coburn but echoed the middle of the road sentiment from both parties.
“There’s no reason for 47 job training programs, we ought to look for better ways to do it,” he said on Morning Joe. “[But] if not this, what? If you oppose this deal, do you feel there is a better deal to be had? What is the alternative to this deal?”