Boehner's 'read my lips' pledge, government shutdown battle looms
February 17th, 2011
04:00 PM ET
11 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. Frozone

    Not only has Boehner been a failure as Speaker so far, he's now quoting Bush Sr's "read my lips" line, a slogan which basically handed the White House to the Democrats. Worst Speaker ever.

    February 17, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. thomas

    Cry me a river !
    How much did the war in Iraq cost ?

    February 17, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Gunner

    Those of you who pessimistically talk about how politicans are all the attention to the upcoming budgetary battles. Already the Dems are characterizing a $60 bil. cut (a drop in the bucket, really) as too deep. This time, they're not all the same.

    February 17, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. normajean

    The fact that the republicans have done absolutely nothing to improve the statis of this country, it is ironic that Boehner continues to call for cuts. He and his cronies have had no problem when the action is to their benefit. The tax cut for the wealthy , to this day, stands as one of the most ridiculous financial moves of the last two years.If they continue in their ineffectual ways and DO shut down the government, just who will eventually have to shoulder the blame? The Repubs, that's who!!!!!

    February 17, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Real Patriots Do MORE than Salute the flag, They educate themselves

    There will be responsible spending cuts; not right wing loon spending cuts. If we are in such dire straits, why did Boner oppose tax increases to Clinton or (gasp) Regan levels? If we are in such dire straits, why does Boner oppose this corporate welfare for his big oil and wall street masters? If we are in such dire straits, why doesn't Boner lay off 60% of his staff and give up his salary and opt out of his health care and pension that I am paying for?
    Shut it down Boner, it worked so well in 2004, please run that play again. The intelligent people of the US have had enough and will be out to the polls in droves and your party will be run out of town on a rail. Game on, agent Orange, game on.

    February 17, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Roscoe

    It's hard to read lips when the guy talking is blubbering and crying. I think he was saying Obama is a muslim and born in Kenya.

    February 17, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. vic nashville tn

    How can we read your lip when you are crying?

    February 17, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. Eddie B

    This is an old Newt Gingrich tactic that undermines democracy. For the GOP to even threaten shutting down the government is absurd. Also, tricks to stop funding for measures like health care undermines the people's vote to have a Democratic majority. Unreal!!!

    February 17, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. PalmReader

    Looks as if the only cutting being done by Boehner are job related cuts. Strange stance from the man who ran on a "jobs, jobs, jobs" platform. Apparently his job slashing memo came too late for the millions who voted he and other fools like him into office. How like the GOPers to blame budget deficits on hard working Americans doing nothing more than earning their employment wages. Nothing new, though, from the political party who also fault the unemployed for being unemployed.

    February 17, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. artraveler

    Be sure andshut down Treasury and its Social Security and Medicare computers first among all the agencies. Ait Traffic control should be next. AmtraK should be third. Of course, that is an order of minutes between them And. of course, TVA transmissions which will give AL GA FL MS and TN a chance to see what it was like before such large government socialist projects like REA and TVA. Kerosene is now available at local bid box stores and maybe you can find a kerosene light at an antique stiore. Shut it all down and let the Tea Pot Heads explain what they did. What are you going to do for storing your beer?

    February 17, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    Read my text, Speaker Boehner. Stand your ground and don't let these bufoons spend America into a $26 trillion debt level which is where Obama's budget takes us even given their rosy assumptions about everything going our way.

    We are at $14 trillion debt right now and the American people have said in no uncertain way that it needs to come down, not up. The future of our nation is at stake.

    February 17, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Real Patriots Do MORE than Salute the flag, They educate themselves

    Who are you going to work with John – the teatards or the American people that don't want to be held hostage? Popcorn time

    February 17, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Mike, Albany

    So the republicans give tax cuts fo oil companies that posted $10-50 billion in profits last year while insisting on cutting home heating assistance to the poor. I guess the republicans really are listening to the American people because this is exactly what they wanted, right? Can you say "buyer's remorse"?

    February 17, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Michael

    Acquiring a majority position in the House means that the GOP will have to start providing solutions to problems that have existed since Dubya and his ilk left DC. So now the "Party of No" has nobody to blame if they cannot resolve problems instead of just blaming the Administration. And insofar as being a "Conservative" party, the largest government increases since WW2 have been at the hands of the GOP.

    February 17, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    This guy looks like a drunken bum!

    February 17, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Squigman

    Shut it down, stupid. You and your parties idea that it's gonna be your way, or the highway is beginning to irritate a few, and flat piss off the rest. Cant speak for the rest, but take this to the bank, The next election will give a new speaker the chance to show their abilities, and show you and yours the door. Go ahead. Shut down the most prolific economy in the world. You're making friends in low places. why worry about the high.

    February 17, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. anthony

    All reps in both house and senate should take massive paycuts to pay for it. See how they like that. These people are payed too much $ to not get any quality work done. Both dems and reps need to stop playing sides and started working for the greater good of America. Instead of trying to get re-elected.

    February 17, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Zip

    Johnny Barstool in the House!

    February 17, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Harry is correct, Boner is a worthless speaker who cannot control votes. If Boner was listening to the American people he would get off his lazy butt and do something for America. With his tavern background, it is obvious that you can take a republican out of the bar, but you cannot take the bar out of the republican. It does make you wonder if all republicans are liars, or just the elected ones along with the right wingnuts who post their stupidity daily.

    February 17, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Darth Vadik, CA

    Is this guy always drunk????
    Dude, two words, Alcoholics is anonymous, so no one will know you went, but please go seek some help, and spare us your behavioural tantrums, they are not cool when the whole nation is in question.

    February 17, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. jake

    I would say that the government has probably earned that week long break in the start of march. Don't most people get a week vacation after working for a month. Let's get real

    February 17, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Hey Boehner. Its hard to read your lips when they are tight up against the rear-end of the rightwing underbelly of this nation. Guess he and other [R]s enjoys that foul taste in their mouths; they've certainly been kissing-up to those nether-regions for sometime now.

    February 17, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. terry, va

    The repubs will fund interest on our debt and will not go along with the rest of the spend and tax things the dumbocraps have in mind. I say shut her down. Let the welfare people eat cake and breast milk per Ms Obummie's plan.

    February 17, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Michael tampa

    What don't they understand about you have to be careful what you cut until the recovery is stronger. I think they want to send the country back into a recession just so they can blame Obama.

    February 17, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    $60 billion is only a bit over half of what the GOP promised for this year–I want the full $100 billion cut! And $200 billion next year, and $400 billion the year after that, and so on until the budget is balanced.

    And, yes, this will involve cutting SS and Medicare/Medicaid.

    February 17, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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