House Speaker John A. Boehner appears to have had enough of outside groups trying to assert their influence on congressional affairs.
At a press conference on Wednesday morning, the typically even-keeled Ohio Republican lashed out against those groups that oppose the bipartisan budget agreement and threaten to bring it down by "scoring" the GOP votes.
"You mean the groups who came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?" Boehner asked a reporter who had just begun to ask him about the growing discontent among influential groups such as Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity.
"They're using our members, and they're using the American people for their own goals," Boehner went on, his voice growing louder and his tone growing sharper. "This is ridiculous.
"Listen," he said. "If you're for more deficit reduction, you're for this agreement."
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., leaving the joint GOP leadership press conference, wouldn't elaborate but told a small scrum of reporters he thought it was "strange" that outside groups would begin to weigh in against the deal he negotiated with Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., before language was ever made public or even finalized.
On the heels of Boehner's remarks, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola e-mailed out a statement in response.
"We stand with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, members of the Republican Study Committee and every other fiscal conservative who opposes the Ryan-Murray deal," Chocola said. "After carefully reviewing the budget deal, on which we never commented until it was complete, we determined that it would increase the size of government. We support pro-growth proposals when they are considered by Congress. In our evaluation, this isn't one of those."
How members vote on the budget deal, which is expected to hit the floor Thursday, could illustrate the extent to which these groups have a hold on lawmakers. Heritage Action and Club for Growth in particular have stymied Republican leaders' attempts in the past to bring up legislation that, to them, fell low on ideological purity barometers, and Heritage Action in particular spurred House Republicans to demand Democratic concessions on Obamacare as a condition of keeping government running earlier this year.
At Wednesday's closed-door conference meeting, where members had the chance for the first time since the budget agreement was unveiled to voice support or opposition, it appeared there would be little revolt coming from the hard-line rank and file, despite the fact that it doesn't accomplish everything Republicans would like.
"Look, our budget that we passed here in the House, the Republican budget, represents our ultimate goal and our ultimate vision," Ryan said at the Wednesday press conference. "But we understand in this divided government we are not going to get everything we want. So what we want to do is take a step toward that goal."