House Speaker John Boehner and tea party-aligned conservatives groups are approaching an all-out war.
Conservative leaders have signed a statement expressing their fury with Boehner after his explosive remarks Thursday afternoon, escalating an ongoing feud over the budget deal.
“It is clear that the conservative movement has come under attack on Capitol Hill today,” the statement from the Conservative Action Project read.
On Wednesday, conservative groups urged lawmakers to oppose the budget deal, prompting Boehner to dismiss the idea that conservatives still havelegislative pull with the party. At his weekly briefing on Capitol Hill, Boehner said conservative groups “pushed” Republicans into the government shutdown debacle and have “lost all credibility.”
Conservative leaders also signed the letter in solidarity to protest the firing of the House Republican Study Committee’s executive director. RSC chairman Steve Scalise fired the committee’s executive director, Paul Teller, on Wednesday for leaking classified House intel to conservative groups. He announced the decision at a weekly RSC meeting.
“We urge all conservative leaders to recognize the tremendous service of our friend Paul Teller, and to redouble your efforts to advance a true conservative agenda on Capitol Hill and across the country,” the letter included.
“We are saddened and outraged that an organization that purports to represent conservatives in Congress would dismiss a staff member for advancing conservatism and working with conservatives outside of Congress,” the statement, signed by more than 50 conservative leaders, read.
“Speaker Boehner thinks ‘outside groups’ are the problem?” asked Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, in a statement. “Does he really think the American voters who are involved in the tea party, who got him elected, should not demand accountability of their elected representatives? The Speaker’s anger and ire is misdirected towards the wrong people.”
“Frankly, Mr. Speaker, continuously making promises and then breaking them is how you lose credibility with the American people. Pitting your colleagues against their constituents is how you lose credibility with your conference. Not upholding conservative principles is how you lose credibility with the voters who will find someone else if you are not willing to do your job.”
Boehner said Thursday conservative groups crossed “the line” by asking lawmakers to oppose the bipartisan two-year budget plan, which was overwhelmingly passed by the House Thursday night, marking the House’s final action of 2013. The plan sets discretionary spending at more than $1 trillion for the next two fiscal years and replaces sequester cuts slated to take effect in January. Democrats have complained that the bill does not include an extension of unemployment benefits that will expire at the end of the year.
The Senate is expected to approve the bill next week and President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill into law.
But some of the Speaker’s Republican colleagues disagree with the budget deal – 33 conservative House Republicans sent a letter to the Speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking for a clean continuing resolution to be brought to the floor instead of voting on the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray budget agreement.
When Boehner was asked about his relationship with conservative leaders going forward, he replied, “I don’t care what they do.”