House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Thursday held firm in his criticism of outside conservative groups after a war of words Wednesday, questioning their credibility and saying they’ve gone “over the line” for attacking a budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
“Frankly I think they’re misleading their followers. I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be. And frankly I just think they’ve lost all credibility,” he told reporters at his weekly press conference Thursday. “There comes a point when people step over the line. When you criticize something and you have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility.”
Boehner was visibly agitated with the conservative groups, who are influential among House Republicans and are pushing lawmakers to vote against the bill set to come up Thursday.
“Yesterday, when the criticism was coming, frankly I thought it was my job and my obligation to stand up for conservatives here in the Congress who want more deficit reduction,” he said. “Stand up for the work that Chairman Ryan did.”
Boehner didn’t mention any by name, but the conservative advocacy organizations who have gone against him include Club For Growth, Heritage Action and FreedomWorks.
“This budget bill gets us more deficit reduction than what we have under the Budget Control Act,” he said. “I came here to cut the size of government — that’s exactly what this bill does. And why conservatives wouldn’t vote for this — or criticize the bill — is beyond any recognition I could come up with.”
“You know, they pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly the strategy I had in mind. But if you recall, the day before the government re-opened, one of the people at one of these groups stood up and said, ‘well we never really thought it would work.’ Are you kidding me?”
Asked if he thinks the groups should “stand down,” Boehner said, “I don’t care what they do.”