WASHINGTON House Speaker John Boehner isn’t going out quietly.
The outgoing and embattled speaker had choice words Sunday for his foes inside and outside of Congress and signaled that he intends to be very much in charge until he relinquishes the speaker’s gavel under pressure at the end of October.
Boehner took aim at Republican rebels in the House of Representatives and unnamed conservative and tea party groups that agitated for his departure.
He blasted them as “false prophets” who “whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know, they know, they are never going to happen.”
“They’re unrealistic,” the Ohio Republican said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “The Bible says beware of false prophets. And there are people out there, you know, spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean this whole notion that we’re going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013 – this plan never had a chance.”
When asked if the “false prophets” included Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Boehner said, “you can pick out a lot of names. I’ll let you choose them.”
Boehner then referred to comments he made at a Colorado fundraiser where the speaker called Cruz a “jackass.” Cruz earned Boehner’s ire when for advising House Republican conservatives.
Boehner’s critics gave as good as they got from the speaker.
“We need a Republican leadership that is showing conservative values,” Michael Needham, CEO of the conservative Heritage Action for America said on Fox News Sunday. “That's not what we've had.”
Boehner said there won’t be a repeat of 2013’s partial government shutdown this week as Congress must pass a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating beyond Wednesday.
He said the House would take up a short-term continuing resolution – or CR – currently under consideration in the Senate before the shutdown deadline. The Senate legislation doesn’t strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, something some conservatives are demanding over the organization’s alleged selling of fetal tissue.
Boehner acknowledged that pushing the Senate bill through the House will require heavy support from the chamber’s Democrats.
“I’m sure it will, but I suspect my Democratic colleagues want to keep the government open as much as I do.”
In addition to avoiding a shutdown, Boehner hinted that he has a number of things on his to-do list before he leaves office Oct. 30.
“I expect that I might have a little more cooperation from some around town to try to get as much finished as possible,” he said. “I don’t want to leave my successor a dirty barn. I want to clean the barn up a little bit before the next person gets there.”
Boehner’s appearance had the tone of an exit interview with a departing employee with nothing to lose. Without naming names, he chastised Republican and conservative hardliners for questioning his conservative credentials and lectured them on how government, particularly Congress, is supposed to work.
“Our founders gave us a system of government, a majority in the House, you need 60 votes in the Senate,” he said. “And our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where, if you won the majority, you got to do whatever you wanted. They wanted this long, slow process.”
Boehner added: “And so change comes slowly, and obviously too slow for some.”
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., complained that voters gave Republicans control of the House in 2010 and the Senate this year only to see “things are not that different” from when Democrats controlled the chambers.
“We are paying more attention to worrying about polls and who is getting blamed for a shutdown, or more attention to the filibuster rules in the Senate than actually helping people and doing what we promised we would do,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.
While criticizing lawmaker’s preoccupation with polls, Mulvaney cited an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week that showed 72 percent of Republican primary voters were dissatisfied with the ability of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to achieve Republican goals.
Despite those numbers among voters, Boehner felt he could have survived a vote in the House to vacate the speaker’s chair. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., introduced such a measure before Congress left Washington for its August recess.
The measure languishes in the House Rules Committee, but could be brought up.
“Listen, wining that vote was never an issue,” Boehner said. “I was going to get the overwhelming numbers – I would have gotten 400 votes probably.”
But Boehner said he decided to resign to spare Republicans who would have voted for him Republican primary challenges in their districts next year.
“Why do I want to make my members, Republican members, walk the plank?” he said. “Because they’re going to get criticized at home by some who think that we ought to be more aggressive.”