Transcript: Press conference remarks by House Republican leaders on the federal budget compromise – Dec. 11, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Rep. Paul Ryan on the budget deal. The press briefing was held on Dec. 11, 2013:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:
Good morning. We’ve obviously got a very full agenda this week in the House, final week of the session this year.

…As you know, the budget chairman [Paul Ryan] is here to discuss the details of the agreement with Sen. Murray. I want to congratulate him on the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government that we’re in.

The deal is something that accomplishes deficit reduction, permanent pension reform for government employees, and it doesn’t raise taxes. And it is consistent with Republican efforts all along to try to replace the sequester with permanent savings that just make a lot more sense…

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin):
We’ve got to find a way to make this divided government work. We think it’s in our nation’s interest to do that. That’s why we sought to reach a budget agreement that maintained our core principles and found common ground. And we have found common ground with our colleagues on the other side the aisle over in the Senate.

And what this budget agreement does is it helps produce more certainty because it stops a potential government shutdown in January and it stops a potential government shutdown in October. We think that’s good for the country.

At the same time, we wanted to make sure that we are taking a step in the right direction for fiscal discipline.

Look, our budget that we passed here in the House – the Republican budget – represents our ultimate goal and our ultimate issues – balance the budget, pay off the debts. But we understand in this divided government, we’re not going to get everything we want. And so what we want to do is take a step toward that goal, a step in the direction toward that vision.

And by having a budget agreement that does not raise taxes, that does reduce the deficit and produces some certainty and prevents government shutdowns, we think is a good agreement.

It’s also an agreement that gives Congress the power of the purse back. For three years, we keep passing these continuing resolutions, which basically is Congress ceding its authority to the executive branch so they set the priorities. That is not right; that’s not constitutional.

So we’ve reclaimed power of the purse. We make a statement on behalf of deficit reduction. We finally focus on a portion of the budget which has been on autopilot for years that is in need of attention. And we make divided government work.

We feel very good about where we are with our members. We know that this budget agreement doesn’t come close to achieving what we want to achieve on our ultimate fiscal goals. But again, if we can get a step in the right direction, we’re going to take that step, and that’s why we’re doing this.

Q&A response:
…This agreement maintains 70% of the sequester in the next year and a half, and it preserves 92% of the sequester over the life of the sequester.

So here’s where we started in this agreement: The Democrats wanted the sequester to be completely eliminated, completely gone. We didn’t agree with that. We’re maintaining 70% of the sequester, and the $63 billion relief that we’re providing – half to defense, half to domestic – we are paying for through $85 billion of mandatory savings to result in net deficit reduction. We think that’s a step in the right direction. We think that preserves fiscal discipline. It keeps the budget caps intact. Oh and by the way, it gets bipartisan agreement for sticking with budget caps.

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Press briefing Q&A:

Question:
[Inaudible]

House Speaker John Boehner:
Now, listen, we have voted to repeal Obamacare. We want Obamacare gone. Why? Because it’s not good for the American people, and they’re finding out pretty clearly it’s not good for them.

Question:
[Inaudible]

House Speaker John Boehner:
Listen, we’ve worked all year to get our economy going again, to help produce better jobs and more wages. When the White House finally called me last Friday about extending unemployment benefits, I said we would clearly consider it as long as it’s paid for and as long as there are other efforts that’ll help get our economy moving once again. I’ve not seen a plan from the White House that meets those standards.

Question:
[Inaudible]…On conservative groups that have blasted the budget deal.

House Speaker John Boehner:
You mean the groups that opposed it before they ever saw it? They’re using our members for their own goals. This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.

Question:
[Inaudible]…On unemployment insurance.

House Speaker John Boehner:
Listen, I outlined what I wanted to the White House. I’ve not seen any proposal from them.

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