Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that the Senate will be toying with a government shutdown if it makes drastic changes to a continuing resolution passed Wednesday by the House.
The CR, which makes changes to defense spending to alleviate sequester cuts to military readiness, awaits Senate action, and the chamber may add more spending bills to the package. But Boehner warned against adding anything overtly partisan.
“If Senate Democrats try to load up this bill with extraneous provisions, partisan riders and budget gimmicks, we will be prepared to move a clean continuing resolution through the remainder of the fiscal year,” the Ohio Republican told reporters. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that’s going to help our troops. So I would urge Democrat leaders of the Senate to not get greedy and get carried away and try to put forward the possibility of a government shutdown.”
Consideration of the CR will play out next week as President Barack Obama is slated to come to the Capitol to speak directly with the GOP conference. Boehner, who has said he will no longer negotiate one-on-one with the president, said the move is not an end run around his leadership for Obama to go straight to the members.
“I don’t feel like the president’s going around me,” he said. “The president, now in his second term, is beginning to understand that even the leaders need to have support from their members.”
Boehner said it is a “hopeful” sign that Obama is engaging with Congress but urged him to change not only his tactics but also the substance of his demands in fiscal negotiations.
“After being in office now for over four years, he’s actually going to sit down and talk to members. I think it’s a ... hopeful sign, and I’m hopeful something will come out of it,” Boehner said. “But if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don’t think we’re going to get very far.”
Boehner said that he will continue to insist on a dollar of spending cuts for each dollar increase to the debt ceiling when it will have to be raised in May.
Obama will also meet with the House Democratic Caucus next week.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, C-Calif., also addressed Obama’s pending visit with reporters Thursday.
While some Republicans, and even some Democrats, have criticized Obama for not making such overtures earlier in his presidency, Pelosi said the issue is whether he’s too accommodating of the GOP.
“This president has been so respectful, given so much time to the Republicans and their views to the point that one time, in one of our meetings, I said to the president, ‘Mr. President, I’m busy. And I don’t have any more time for this. You have to be the busiest person in the world. If and when they come up with a new idea, why don’t we just call you back into the room,’” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference.
Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.