The ranking member on the House Budget Committee said Thursday that the tea party has taken over in the House of Representatives, and turned Speaker John Boehner into little more than a rubber stamp for their social agenda as the government careens toward its first shutdown since 1995.
“Speaker Boehner is not in control,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said on a conference call with reporters when asked by TPM about the prospects of a shutdown. “The tea party caucus has their hands on the steering wheel and they are prepared to drive right into a government shut down if they don’t get 100% of their demands met.”
Van Hollen said the tea party rejection of Democratic offers of billions of dollars in compromise budget cuts comes from a desire to attack entitlements and environmental laws, not reduce the size of government as they’ve claimed.
“To pretend that they care about deficit reduction here when their real goal is to use this budget battle to impose that social agenda is becoming more obvious everyday,” Van Hollen said.
He says that the man leading the negotiations for the Republicans in Congress, Boehner, has become nothing more than a proxy for his party’s far-right extreme.
“None of us of course know how this is going to turn out,” Van Hollen said, “but the Speaker is not in control of this process.”
“He’s being pushed rather than leading,” Van Hollen said.
Ed. Note: This post has been updated from the original.