Boehner: I'm the "Most Anti-Establishment Speaker" We've Had

Boehner: I'm the "Most Anti-Establishment Speaker" We've Had
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John Boehner is no squish.

That was the message he sent during his weekly news conference just two days after surviving the second attempt in the past two years to oust him from his role as speaker of the House.

“It does pain me to be described as spineless or a squish,” Boehner said Thursday. “And I tell you what pains me the most is when they describe me as the establishment. I’m the most anti-establishment speaker we’ve ever had.”

Boehner received a majority of the votes for speaker in the first ballot earlier this week, though more than 20 Republicans voted against him after expressing frustration with the way he has run the House.

“The American people are very frustrated,” Boehner said. “They’re frustrated with a struggling economy, they’re frustrated that they don’t think Washington’s listening, and they want action. I talk to Americans every day, I talk to my constituents every day, and this frustration that’s out there, they need to take it out on somebody. They take it out on the president, take it out on me, and it comes with the territory.”

Boehner said he hasn’t made a decision yet as to whether there will be further retribution for those who voted against him in the speaker’s race, calling it a “family conversation” and saying there will be a resolution in the coming weeks.

Boehner’s tenure running the House has often been a balancing act between managing the more conservative members of his own caucus and opposing the Democratic Senate and White House. Despite the GOP gaining control of the Senate and increasing its majority in the House, Boehner’s balancing act continues in the early days of 2015.

With the new Congress barely in session, the White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a proposed bill on the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as legislation that would increase the work requirement in the Affordable Care Act to 40 hours per week. Boehner on Thursday expressed frustration with the swiftness of the veto threats.

“Unfortunately the president’s been taking steps towards more confrontation rather than bipartisan cooperation on jobs,” Boehner said. “Earlier in the week, literally as we were taking our oaths of office for this new Congress, the White House threatened to veto two of these bipartisan bills. Given the chance to start with a burst of bipartisan productivity, the president turned his back on the American people’s priorities.

“The president, at a minimum he could have waited a few hours,” he added. “Maybe he could have waited a few days. We were taking our oath of office when they were issuing veto threats. C’mon!”

In a press conference just before Boehner spoke, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will have the votes to sustain the president’s vetoes on Keystone and Obamacare.

Pelosi proclaimed at the end of 2014 that she hoped for bipartisan solutions in the House, but that Democrats would uphold the president’s veto when necessary. Asked whether her party could be portrayed as a new “party of no” if vetoes come from the White House, Pelosi adamantly suggested otherwise.

“We’re not the party of no, the Republicans are the party of no because they said right from the start that to prevent the president from being a success was the most important thing they could do, and that’s their path,” she said. “We have a path, we want a path to yes.”

Pelosi also highlighted some of the bills the Democrat-controlled Congress passed during the final years of President George W. Bush’s second term and said she was hopeful that Republicans would find ways to work with President Obama.

“Part of that working together is to make clear where we have common ground and where we do not,” she said. 

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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