Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner lashed out at the House’s “most conservative members” during a Sunday interview on ABC’s “Face the Nation.”
CBS host John Dickerson began the interview by asking Boehner about the threatened government shutdown: “Four days, the government runs out of money. Is there going to be a shutdown?”
Boehner responded, “no,” that he expected the Senate to pass a continuing resolution and that with the help of Democrats in the House, he expected the House to vote to keep the government open.
Moving to the issue of Boehner’s upcoming retirement, Dickerson asked Boehner about conversations he has had with members of Congress:
A lot of your colleagues I have talked to and friends out of — who served with you used the word dysfunction and say basically that you had to resign because it’s a sign of how dysfunctional things are in the House with the Republicans. What do you say about that?
Boehner replied, “I wouldn’t call it dysfunction. Disagreement, yes,” going on to explain that he would have had enough votes to survive the anticipated efforts by conservative Republicans to vacate his chairmanship: “Listen, winning that vote was never an issue. I was going to get the overwhelming numbers of — I would have gotten 400 votes probably. But why do I want to make my members, Republican members, walk the plank? Because they’re going to get criticized at home by some who think that we ought to be more aggressive.”
Boehner went on to lash out at Tea Party Republicans, without calling them out by name:
Listen, we have accomplished a lot over the four-and-a-half years that I was speaker, and whether it was the largest deficit reduction deal in the history of the country, saving $2.1 trillion, protecting 99 percent of the American people from an increase in our taxes, or the first major entitlement reforms in 20 years, all done over last four-and-a-half years with a Democrat president, and all voted against by my most conservative members because it wasn’t good enough.
Really? This is the part that I really don’t understand. Our founders gave us a system of government, a majority in the House, you need 60 votes in the Senate. If the House and Senate can agree, the president gets to decide. And our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where, if you won the majority, you got to do whatever you wanted. They wanted this long, slow process.
And so change comes slowly, and obviously too slowly for some.
Dickerson responded: “Well, are they unrealistic about what can be done by government? That’s the dysfunction.”
Boehner replied, “Absolutely they’re unrealistic,” adding:
But the Bible says, beware of false prophets. And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean, this whole idea that we were going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, this plan never had a chance.
But over the course of the August recess in 2013, and the course of September, lot of my Republican colleagues who knew it was a fool’s errand, really, they were getting all this pressure from home to do this. And so we have got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know, they know are never going to happen.
It’s just — but, listen, I have had 25 great years here in Washington. I have had great staff. I have had great colleagues, and I’m very thankful to my family and to my constituents for giving me the honor to do this.
Dickerson followed up, asking “Is Ted Cruz a false prophet?” and Boehner responded: “Listen, you can pick a lot of names out. I’ll let you choose them.”
Boehner also held fast to his earlier remarks about Cruz during a fundraiser in Colorado in August when he referred to Cruz as “that jack-ass.”
DICKERSON: Is Ted Cruz a false prophet?
BOEHNER: Listen, you can pick a lot of names out. I’ll let you choose them.
DICKERSON: You don’t debate that assertion?
BOEHNER: I’ll refer you to my remark at a fund-raiser I made in August in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Just to be certain, Dickerson followed up a couple of minutes later:
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the — by the way, you called Ted — I believe the word you used was jackass, referring to Senator Cruz.
BOEHNER: I’m referring to that same remark.
DICKERSON: All right. All right.
You can watch this portion of the interview, below: