Speaker John Boehner blamed Senate Democrats tonight for the lack of progress on a yearlong extension of a popular payroll tax cut, accusing them of refusing to agree to offset the costs of the package.
In an interview on PBS’ “NewsHour,” the Ohio Republican said, “It’s pretty clear that our Senate colleagues want no part of cutting spending.
“Now, if we’re going to extend the payroll tax credit, and we’re going to extend unemployment benefits with reforms and take care of the so-called doc fix, we’re going to have to offset this spending,” he said.
“But my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don’t want to offset this spending,” Boehner added.
The House’s top Republican did say, “Hopefully we’ll be able to come to an agreement quickly,” but his comments were the clearest sign to date that talks on the conference committee were breaking down.
On this year’s Congressional elections, Boehner acknowledged there will be a difficult fight for Republicans but cautioned Democrats about predictions that they could take control of the House.
“I don’t think they should be that confident, but it’s going to be an election,” Boehner said. “We’ve got redistricting going on all across the country, so Members are — most Members are going to be in new districts. But it — while I think there’s going to be a real fight, I think we have a reasonable opportunity to maintain the majority.”
Boehner also downplayed concerns that the increasingly ugly primary race for the GOP presidential nomination will affect the party’s chances in November.
“No one likes to see nasty campaigns. But I would remind you that the fight in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went on through June of that year. And so while I would rather not see it, it’s part of the political process,” he said.
“Out of this will come our nominee. And I don’t think it’ll have any impact on the November election.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.