House Speaker John Boehner isn’t taking a key Obama administration veto threat seriously. At least not yet.
In a letter delivered last week, the White House warned congressional appropriators that the president will not sign legislation to fund the federal government if the bill or bills cut overall spending below the level the parties agreed to during last summer’s fight over raising the national debt limit.
In other words: It’s those spending levels, or a government shutdown.
At a his weekly press conference, I asked Boehner to respond to that letter.
“Blah blah blah blah blah, alright, so?” Boehner joked.
That’s the official response?
Republicans say they want to cut more money out of domestic programs, and the House GOP even set a cap on spending that’s both under the top line figure, and shifts yet more money out of domestic programs, back into defense spending.
But when pressed further, Boehner declined to stake out a firm position on whether Republicans will ultimately dig in on cutting below the debt limit agreement — risking a government shutdown fight — or whether they’ll reverse course to avoid a dangerous election season drama.
“My goal is to move appropriation bills through the House and hopefully work with our Senate colleagues to move appropriation bills on their own,” Boehner said. “I am — worked last year to try to rebuild the appropriations process. It’s one of the essential responsibilities of the Congress to spend the American people’s money wisely. I think we do that best when we move individual bills. … When we get to September we’ll have a discussion then about how many bills have become law, what isn’t finished and what else needs to be done.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.