Boehner's 'read my lips' pledge, government shutdown battle looms
February 17th, 2011
04:00 PM ET
4 years ago

Boehner's 'read my lips' pledge, government shutdown battle looms

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner ratcheted up a looming showdown with Senate Democrats and the President over government funding Thursday that Democrats warn could lead to a government shutdown two weeks from now.

At issue: a spending measure currently funding the government expires on March 4th. Republicans are debating a bill that would cut government spending by over $60 billion, but Senate Democrats call those cuts far too deep. Assuming the two sides can't reach agreement in the next two weeks, a short term measure to keep the government running would need to pass.

But Boehner Thursday said that he would not allow a stopgap measure at current spending levels.

"I am not going to move any kind of short term CR [continuing resolution] at current levels," Boehner said. Echoing a politically charged phrase by former President George H. W. Bush, Boehner added, "When we say we're going to cut spending, read my lips, we're going to cut spending."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rushed to the cameras to accuse Boehner of threatening to shut down the government.

"We're terribly disappointed that Speaker Boehner can't control the votes in his caucus to prevent a shutdown of government and now he's resorting to threats to do just that without any negotiations, " Reid said.

A Boehner spokesman said later that the Speaker was not suggesting a short term CR wouldn't pass, and underscored he was saying it wouldn't pass at current spending levels

"If Sen. Reid is unwilling to listen to the American people and cut spending in a temporary CR, he will be responsible for the government shut-down he and Sen. Schumer are rooting for," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, told CNN in an email.

Neither Boehner nor his spokesman said exactly how much government spending would have to be cut for a short term measure to keep the government running.

But as dug in as Boehner may be about not passing even a short term measure to keep the government running without some additional spending cuts, Senate Democrats are standing just as firm in saying they will only consider a stop gap measure if it funds the government at current spending levels.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that their spending plan "starts and stops" with current funding levels.

In fact, Senate Democrats huddled later Thursday to discuss the issue, and emerged with a new message: what they are proposing - keeping the government running at current levels – is actually $41 billion in spending cuts.

Senate leaders including Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, each made that case to reporters separately in the hallway.

Their argument: House Republicans claim their plan is $100 billion in spending cuts, compared to the President's 2011 budget proposal – which was never enacted.

Senate Democrats say following that math, their push to fund the government at current levels adds up to $41 billion in spending cuts.

"We have proposed a cut of $41 billion from the presidents 2011 number, they've proposed &100 billion, both are rather significant cuts and we should sit down and negotiate this like adults," said Schumer.

Schumer, along with other Senate Democrats, made clear they believe those negotiations – whenever they start – will last beyond the March 4th deadline for the government funding to expire.

Therefore, they say Senate Democrats are likely to bring the short term measure to the Senate floor when they return from congressional recess Feb 28th.


Filed under: John Boehner • Taxes
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. John

    This isn't what his party was sent to Congress to do.

    February 17, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. Charlie

    More political chest-thumping. There are no surprises here; the GOP is going after "soft targets" they've always resented and the supposed "savings" are strictly symbolic. With the exception of bipartisan agreement to cut $450 million from the F-35 fighter jet engine project, there's no talk of cutting waste in the DoD or government give-aways to corporations like the very profitable oil business. The Democrats' contention the Republicans plan to shutdown government ranks right up there with Glenn Beck's prediction that Egypt will be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. We, the America public, need more factual guidelines on how the deficit/debt is to be handled, a realistic timeframe that doesn't sink the economy, and how these proposals will translate into our daily lives. Less focus on winning the White House in 2012 and more attention on how we'll use these invaluable two years to get the "ship of state" turned around.

    February 17, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Name

    Here we go again. Republicans / Democrats lack of leadership and vision. The reason they are in office is to come up with resolutions. Instead both tow the party line at the peril of an entire nation. People need to wake up and limit terms, remove lobbyists and replace the whole darn lot of them.

    February 17, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Support 99ers tier 5 or there will be troubble

    We need the same that happend to egipt we as people will distroy the goverment soon very soon

    February 17, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There's cutting and then there's cutting... Look at what is being done and what they plan on cutting. It shows what their values (or lack thereof) and what they believe. If they don't like government, then they shouldn't use any of it and shouldn't be in the legislature.

    February 17, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Irma in North Carolina

    Its all about the orange man himself, its my way or no way. He thinks this will win him political points for 2012 Where are the jobs? Sure just pass it over so you can say it is the presidents falt. You might as well chum up with Sarah and tea party you are all alike.

    February 17, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Renee

    Look at Wisconsin

    February 17, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Realistic

    Ok lets really shut down goverment once and for all. We, the people, need to understand how important our goverment really is to us. See, some idiots buy the republicans scheme about goverment but they really never had to live without its assistance. I for one, want to see a total shut down and end this stupid game republicans play. I mean a total shut down and watch all the p____ republicans start crying..Shut down homeland security, its a gov't agency, CIA, NSA and all the other ones to, air trafic controllers, police and so on. We will never know what these public employees bring to the table until we have to do without them. Like the saying goes" You'll never what you got until its gone". But it won't happen, we will do weak thing and eventually both sides will come to terms. And 10-15+ years we will be back talking about another gov't shut down. we need to go through this once and for all and really shut it down and never again we this be held as a weapon over our heads again. Than, only than we will get serious, hold our politicians accountable and ourselves accountable. I want a total shut down once and for all....The panic and the crying and the whinning that would happen would stp this game once and for all. But it will never happen, we never do things right, only half S and so it will continue...

    February 17, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Hank

    I just hope the Republicans don't give in. This time around is different than when the Republicans took the blame for the Clinton era shutdown. We must cut spending or this deficit will destroy the USA as we know it.

    February 17, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker from Wisconsin

    I wonder if Boehner says anything that is truthful. Even drunks that have a vivid imagination speak some truth on occasion.

    February 17, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker from Wisconsin

    How did John do on his vote for the unwanted jet engine yesterday? His loss saved taxpayers a few billion dollars.

    February 17, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. B

    Boehner is all about threats and fear and no real substantive policy on anything. He basically is not up to the job which should be very disconcerting to most people in general and extremely so to the GOP in particular.

    He also has a very weak persona, crying about just about anything.

    February 17, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. SuchPhail

    The American cleptocracy at work. The pucker factor is getting bigger and bigger.

    February 17, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. rs

    Do it Boehner, go ahead. You will feel the wrath of the American public for all of your grandstanding. You and the rest of the Tea Party Republicans lied before the election, and you're lying now. Here's a hot tip: STOP playing games- Americans are sick of it. Get to work, start making solutions or get lost. GET IT?

    BTW Boehner- "Where are the jobs"?

    February 17, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. JMR49

    It this does end up in a shut down, it will be due to using the CR as blackmail. You refused to even discuss 2011 budget last year in order to do this. Read my lips: Put a budget together and put it to a vote.

    February 17, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Arcwraith

    K ... let them shut the government down... let them all leave and never return. United States citizens are tired of the petty bickering between these political parties,especially when everytihng they do is for their own benefits. So much for serving the people.

    February 17, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Brian

    They should just spin the wheel and see where it lands.

    February 17, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Citizen for Progress, Liberty, and Freedom

    Neat. Let's derail the Government because we want to cut programs even though the real issue is in the Big 4 and, of course, the senseless corporate corruption that is now deep rooted in our Political System. Although, I'm not sure if Boehner (wasn't he Speaker before Pelosi and did a really poor job?) is the Spokesman of the People quite like he thinks he is. I mean, he says all the right words, at least for less than half of us to bite on (Conservatives are more motivated than Liberals...as far as voting and polls are concerned [its a problem with hope...self-inflicted, we know]...giving a skewed view on actual national political affiliation), but in reality...I'm just not convinced he (and most other politicians) really have the country at the front of their priorities. I'm fairly confident most of the things they tell us are a facade for what they are actually doing (like Iran-Contra, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Taliban, most of the CIAs dealings, list goes on). Some folks will see "Oh Great! More Liberal Conspiracy BS!" but the truth is, our Country was sold off to Corporations long ago (Reagan started it...no one since can curb it quite the same as it was...or tries) and all anyone is really looking for is the next big sale or opportunity to make some money. The proof is in the action behind the words. The article above is a pretty good signifier of who they really care about. Willing to shut down the Government, and all that may entail with that, for a few billion against our trillions of debt. It's like choosing to not pay your Electric Bill because someone can't stop eating Ho-Hos. Ramifications could be great, but what do you care, Ho-Hos are just sugary treats! Although, the Lobbyists for Sugars pay the Republicans (and likely some Democrats) to alter regulations on types of sugars to be used and how much can be used etc. And if you just refuse to believe that last part, look at yourself, or maybe walk down the street and look at folks. How many will be overweight or even obese? Don't just blame carbs either...there's sugar in EVERYTHING except water. Yes I know there are different types of sugar and they add on to carb intake...but ADDING sugar to stuff is the issue...not the Natural Fructose found in a Banana. White Bread is the best example of sugar in food where it doesn't need to be, off the top of my head.

    Lots of parentheticals and off-topic rants this time...sorry...it just bothers me that shutting the Government down can even be a threat...I mean...really? Do the job we pay you to do...that's all I ask...you give yourself raises at our expense and take healthy kickbacks from lobbyists...start your 60 Bil cutting from there.

    February 17, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Donkey Party

    GOP = Domestic Terrorists

    February 17, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Lynne

    Boehner needs to remember that his is a government job and a temp one at that....and if it gets cut "so be it!"

    February 17, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Gunny420

    im ok with them cut'n sum of the benafits 2 the poor & elderly,we'll pick up the slack,(us poor look out 4 each other).the problem is they(the rich right wing) do'nt want 2 make any sacrafices!they have no consept of fair play,(thats why there rich).If we have to give a little so do they.GET RID OF THE BUSH TAX CUTS TO THE RICH!!!!!!!!

    February 17, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Clwyd

    Boner Boehner! Shut it down and see what the people think of you nuts from the right wing Crazy Party!

    February 17, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Oregon Calling

    Why doesn't this surprise me? Why should they wotk together when all the whiile they have been saying NO?

    Peace :-)

    February 17, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. monie'ponie

    " so ? else is new w/ these clown's. this is them " i love my country" so lets build a monyment to the founder of the KKK & confederate war hero" were broke if people loose there job so be it" striping oil companies of tax subbcedies , no way . & it is alomost comical how education has fallen off the planet to them.. ? else is new .. if u voeted 4 these guys again & you make or know some on who make under 100,000$ do the the rest of us a favor 'DON'T!!!!! ,

    February 17, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Sharon Crowley

    I don't understand why congress gets a week long break when we have something that is this important to pass. The rest of America has to work 40 hours to get paid why do all politicians get all these recesses?

    February 17, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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