Updated 10:27 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act make it impossible to just repeal the health care law unless Congress has a replacement ready as well.
Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in his Ohio district, the speaker also mocked members of his own GOP conference for not wanting to address immigration, knocked the tea party — or, more specifically, organizations that raise money purporting to represent the tea party — and expounded upon the role of money in education, according to a news report from a newspaper near his district.
On health care, Boehner said simply repealing the Affordable Care Act “isn’t the answer” and it would take time to transition to a new system.
“When we were debating Obamacare in 2010 we offered an alternative that consisted of eight or nine points that would make our insurance system work a lot better.
(To) repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight.
“Secondly, you’ve got the big hospital organizations buying up doctor’s groups because hospitals get reimbursed two or three times doctor’s do for the same procedure just because it’s a hospital. Those kinds of changes can’t be redone.
“So the biggest challenge we are going to have is — I do think at some point we’ll get there — is the transition of Obamacare back to a system that empowers patients and doctors to make choices that are good for their own health as opposed to doing what the government is dictating they should do.”
Spokesman Brendan Buck downplayed Boehner’s comments. “For four years now the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” he said.
The GOP, however, has taken a number of votes to repeal the law, including bills that would have completely repealed the law without replacing it. The party hasn’t unified behind a replacement, let alone voted on one, since Boehner took the speaker’s gavel. Republicans however have been working to craft such a bill for months. Boehner’s comments seem to reflect the new reality of the law. With 8 million people having signed up on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, and every state having adapted to the new regulations, repealing the law effective overnight would be messy in the extreme without at least a transition period.
On immigration, Boehner gave his impersonation of the Republican refusal to take on the issue.
“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown’s Run County Club in Madison Township.
“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to. … They’ll take the path of least resistance.”
Boehner said he’s been working for 16 or 17 months trying to push Congress to deal with immigration reform.
“I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy,” he said.
Here’s a video clip:
Buck played down the mocking as a form of affection. “As the speaker often says to his colleagues, you only tease the ones you love,” he said in an email.
On the tea party, Boehner said he had issues with organizations who purport to represent the tea party.
“There’s the tea party and then there are people who purport to represent the tea party.
“I’ve gone to hundreds of tea party events over the last four years. The makeup is pretty much the same. You’ve got some disaffected Republicans, disaffected Democrats. You always have a handful of anarchists.They are against everything. Eighty percent of the people at these events, are the most ordinary Americans you’ve ever met. None of whom have ever been involved in politics. We in public service respect the fact that they brought energy to the political process.
“I don’t have any issue with the tea party. I have issues with organizations in Washington who raise money purporting to represent the tea party, those organizations who are against a budget deal the president and I cut that will save $2.4 trillion over 10 years. They probably don’t know that total federal spending in each of the last two years has been reduced, the first time since 1950.
“They probably don’t realize that we protected 99 percent of the American people from an increase in their taxes. They were against that too, the same organizations. There are organizations in Washington that exist for the sheer purpose of raising money to line their own pockets.
“I made it pretty clear I’ll stand with the tea party but I’m not standing with these three or four groups in Washington who are using the tea party for their own personal benefit.”
Heritage Action CEO, Mike Needham didn’t take kindly to Boehner’s remarks, releasing a statement late Thursday:
“It’s disappointing, but by now not surprising, that the Republican Speaker is attacking conservatives looking to retake the Senate. The Republican Party should be large enough for fact-based policy debates. Unfortunately, John Boehner is more interested in advancing the agenda of high-powered DC special interests than inspiring Americans with a policy vision that allows freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society to flourish.”
Boehner, who is a former chairman of the committee that is now called Education and the Workforce, also offered his opinions on education policy and the controversial No Child Left Behind, which he helped draft.
“All we said with no child left behind is that we ought have expectations for what kids learn and we ought to publish test results so that we know who is learning and who isn’t.
“I don’t think the issue with education is money. If money were going to solve the education problem we would have solved it a long time ago. I think there is a structural problem. It’s not about our kids. Kids are in school 9 percent of the time between birth and age 18. That means 91 percent of the time they are home or they are out in their community. We have books. We have educational TV. We may go and visit places that help reinforce their education. Or they are out in the neighborhood or they are playing team sports or they are part of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. They are involved in things that reinforce their education.
“But it you are poor and you go to a rotten school or live in a rotten neighborhood, you have no chance. You are probably not going to get the basics.
Curt Clawson, the self-funding businessman who won Tuesday’s Republican primary scramble to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla. (cocaine scandal), would be among the richest members of Congress if he wins the GOP-leaning Florida district in the special election June 24.
According to financial disclosures, the automotive CEO, who consistently cast himself as the Washington “outsider” during his campaign, has a minimum net worth of more than $13 million, which would place him in the middle of the pack on Roll Call’s most recent “50 Richest” list. Full story
Conservatives are increasingly — and not so quietly — showing the early signs of a speakership revolt. But short of a sudden groundswell of opposition from the GOP rank and file, or a magic wand, Speaker John A. Boehner is the one who controls his fate.
Just don’t tell that to the Ohio Republican’s foes.
“I think pretty well everybody’s figured Mr. Boehner’s going to be gone, and the question is Cantor and McCarthy,” said Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. “But most conservatives are saying it’s not just at the top; it’s all the way through.”
Huelskamp, who was more than an active player in the last Boehner coup, told CQ Roll Call there are “a lot of meetings going on” about who could be speaker in the 114th Congress, and if Boehner should decide to say, conservatives are discussing how to remove him.
“I think there’s efforts underway to do that,” Huelskamp said.
It’s common congressional knowledge that Huelskamp and Boehner aren’t the best of friends. Boehner stripped Huelskamp of his seat on Financial Services for the 113th. And Huelskamp had a whip list the last time conservatives tried to usurp the speakership. Recently asked about his relationship with Boehner, Huelskamp summed it up this way: “I don’t smoke and I don’t suntan.”
The plan to ditch Boehner sounds similar to the GOP rebellion that ousted Newt Gingrich at the end of 1998: present the speaker with so much opposition behind closed doors that he’s forced to step aside.
But unlike Gingrich, it’s not the rank-and-file opposing Boehner, it’s not GOP leaders; Boehner’s opposition is localized to the same dissident conservatives who have been a thorn in his side for years.
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said his boss has “a better relationship with his members right now than at any time.”
“As he has said many times, he fully expects to be speaker again next Congress,” Buck said. And Boehner lieutenants backed those statements up.
Sandoval (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated April 16 9:50 a.m. | The governors of the two states with the highest unemployment rates — including a Republican — are urging Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio to take up the Senate’s unemployment extension bill.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, wrote to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., asking that the House take up the Senate-passed bill.
“As you know, long-term unemployment remains unacceptably high despite the fact that our economy has been recovering from the worst recession in generations. When our country has experienced similar rates of long-term unemployment in the past, Congress has consistently acted in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment benefits,” the governors wrote. Full story
The 73-year-old Wisconsin Republican’s last eight months on Capitol Hill will likely be consumed with negotiations over legislation to reauthorize funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs in his role as chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction.
The stakes are high for a six-year reauthorization after 2012 efforts to pass a long-term transportation bill fell short and the fiscal health of the Highway Trust Fund is in deep peril. Full story
Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.
During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.
The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.
Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.
Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.
Broun joined 11 other Republicans voting against the Ryan budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Updated, 3:51 p.m. | This year saw more Republicans than ever vote against Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint, which passed the House Thursday 219-205. Here is a breakdown of the 12 Republicans who voted against the Wisconsin Republican’s budget and why.
Updated 4:30 p.m. | The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday in support of launching a criminal investigation into the woman at the center of the IRS scandal — just one day before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to vote on holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.
In a 23-14 party line vote, the Ways and Means panel approved submission of a formal letter to Eric H. Holder Jr., asking that the attorney general pursue charges against the former IRS official using evidence uncovered during the committee’s year-long investigation.
Wednesday’s action — coming after a rare closed-to-the-press meeting — is the latest salvo in what has rapidly escalated into a fiercely partisan battle over the extent to which lawmakers should probe Lerner’s actions. Full story
Things got heated Tuesday between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department.
Gohmert, who was questioning the attorney general about releasing documents relating to the Holy Land Foundation’s 2008 conviction of providing financial assistance to Hamas, then suggested contempt was “not a big deal” to Holder.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder quickly shot back. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. … Don’t ever think that.”
The Texas Republican was quick to respond.
“So we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of [Operation] Fast and Furious where people died … and we can’t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don’t need lectures from you about contempt,” he said.
During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper’s refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans’ communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.
“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.
“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said. Full story
The latest Ryan budget is no more likely than its predecessors to become law. But as with those those earlier documents, this year’s spending blueprint is giving both parties plenty of election-year ammunition.
Democrats, looking for some policy heft to leverage their political talking points, have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the impact on poverty of Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal 2015 budget.
“Our budgets serve as an important tool for expressing Congress’s level of support for domestic anti-poverty initiatives and prioritizing investments in opportunity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wrote in a Monday letter to CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “Such an analysis will aid Members of Congress in making an informed decision on whether Chairman Ryan’s budget will improve or worsen the state of poverty in America.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has given the White House six pages of recommendations on how the Obama administration might proceed with executive orders to curb deportations of illegal immigrants.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a leading advocate for rewriting the nation’s immigration laws on Capitol Hill, told reporters during a conference call Friday that the CHC had “adopted a very strong memo” of suggestions the day before in advance of a scheduled meeting next Wednesday with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
There are 19 women in the House Republican Conference, and on Thursday, 11 of them came to the chamber floor in support of a bill they said was a woman’s issue at its core.
The spotlight on GOP women came as part of a debate over changing the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time job from 30 hours a week to 40.
The bill, which passed 248-179, is destined to be ignored by the Senate. But the vote offered Republicans a chance to push back against the Democrats’ election-year narrative that the GOP is just a club for powerful old white men.
That Democratic line of attack has been fueled by embarrassing reports that the GOP party establishment has coached male candidates on how to run against women without being sexist or offensive.
Denham wants an immigration vote in the HASC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 4 p.m. | Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service — and he’s got a plan in the works.
The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham’s efforts told CQ Roll Call.
“We are working to gather co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” Denham spokeswoman Jordan Langdon said in a statement.
The panel is set to mark up the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead and Denham, who is not himself a HASC member, needs to shore up support among committee members who would be willing to vote on the ENLIST Act if it were offered as an amendment to the underlying bill.
Denham also needs a lawmaker on the committee to introduce the amendment, which shouldn’t be a problem: Of the 42 co-sponsors of the ENLIST Act, 11 of them are HASC members, including the chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.
McKeon, however, has not yet committed to supporting efforts to place the amendment into the bill, either in advance of or during the course of the markup, a Republican committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.
The aide noted that any member of the panel is free to offer an amendment during the full committee markup so long as the language was “solely the jurisdiction” of the Armed Services Committee. Denham’s bill has only been referred to one committee, Armed Services, and would only change U.S. military code, not immigration law — which falls under the purview of the Judiciary Committee.