WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blamed President Barack Obama Tuesday for the remarkable string of fiscal standoffs over the last few years that have tied the government in knots and included the first downgrade of America's credit rating.
"Because of the president's reluctance to cut spending, we've been caught in this battle of having cliffs and having these deadlines," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. He pledged to pass a spending bill to keep the government running after March 27 and to ease defense cuts in the automatic budget cuts under "sequestration."
"This is no way to run a government but until the president gets serious about the serious structural spending problem that we have, we're going to have to deal with it," Boehner said, adding some blame for the Senate.
"I suggested to the president the other day the best thing we could do is find some way to get the Senate to finally do their work, have a large agreement that begins to address the spending problem, puts us on a path to balance the budget over the next 10 years, and get out of this cliff business," Boehner said. "It's not good for the country for us to continue to go through this."
Boehner's comments about a large agreement appeared to be a reference to the "grand bargain" to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion, which both sides have to failed to reach for more than two years. So far, Congress and the White House have cut about $2.5 trillion in deficit spending spread over the coming decade, with just $600 billion of that coming from taxes. Obama has proposed getting the rest of the reductions through another $930 billion in cuts and $600 billion more in revenue. House Republicans remain adamantly opposed to any more taxation.
Boehner insisted the House was moving its spending bill -- called a continuing resolution, or CR -- well before the end of the month to avoid another government shutdown showdown. Yet he all but ruled out the method the House has used to pass three major pieces of legislation this year: letting a minority of Republicans join Democrats to form a majority.
Lat week Boehner let some of his members break ranks to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, which he hadn't done last year before the measure expired. Such instances are a violation of the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who only would bring a bill to the floor if it had the support of the majority of the majority party.
The Senate is likely to take the House's continuing resolution and change it, at the very least to balance defense and domestic spending cuts.
While Boehner declined to guess what the Senate might do -- or say whether he could deal with it -- he suggested another vote like that which occurred for VAWA was not in the cards.
"We tried everything we could to get the differences in our conference resolved," Boehner said of VAWA's passage. "And the fact is they couldn’t resolve their differences. It was time to deal with this issue and we did."
"But it’s not a practice that I would expect to continue long-term," he added