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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

John Boehner rips conservatives for prematurely bashing budget deal, but rushes bill to floor

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Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein,Paul Ryan,John Boehner,Budgets and Deficits,House Republicans,Heritage Action

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, lashed out at conservative groups Wednesday for criticizing the bipartisan budget deal before the details were released.

But Boehner would be able to make that claim a lot more credibly if House Republican leaders would allow enough time for conservatives to study the legislation and lobby their members of Congress before a vote.

Instead, the bill was released Tuesday night and is scheduled to be voted on sometime Thursday - yet another violation of Boehner's pledge to ensure all bills are available online for 72 hours before a vote is held.

Boehner’s 72-hour pledge has its roots in the debate over President Obama’s health care law, when Republicans regularly blasted the Democratic-controlled House for negotiating deals in secret and then rushing them to the floor.

“If we're lucky enough to be in the majority, and I'm lucky enough to be the Speaker, I will not bring a bill to the floor that hasn't been posted online for at least 72 hours,” Boehner said in 2010.

That same year, Republicans released a “Pledge to America” document, which included the following promise: “We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.”

By April 1, 2011, three months after being sworn in as Speaker, Boehner had already violated his pledge twice, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

He violated the pledge again during the 2011 debt limit standoff and again during the Jan. 1, 2013, fiscal cliff showdown.

Given Boehner’s history of rushing legislation to the floor in utter disregard for his own pledge, it’s no surprise, then, that conservative groups such as Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity began mobilizing in opposition to the emerging deal once news reports surfaced that it would undo sequestration spending levels in the near term.

Yet when asked about their opposition at a Wednesday press conference, Boehner snarled, “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”

Boehner went on to call the groups “ridiculous.”

But what’s really ridiculous is Boehner’s attempt to have it both ways. On the one hand, he wants to ram through the budget deal before opposition has time to build – the kind of tactic for which he used to excoriate Democrats. On the other hand, he wants to attack opponents for criticizing the bill before it was released even though they were basing their criticisms on news accounts that turned out to be accurate.

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