House Minority Leader John A. Boehner yesterday said Democrats will never succeed in cutting off money for the Iraq war, vowing that the troops “are going to be funded — no ifs, ands or buts.”
“If they try to play that game, there will be a real war here,” he said, referring the threat by Democratic Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin to unilaterally block President Bush’s $189 billion emergency war-funding bill from his post as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
“The American people will not sit back and watch the Congress play games with the lives of our soldiers in harm’s way,” Mr. Boehner said, predicting a repeat of the Democrats’ capitulation in passing $100 billion in emergency war funding in May after a months-long standoff.
In a wide-ranging interview at his Capitol office, the Ohio Republican said his party’s lackluster fundraising will rebound as the presidential race takes shape, especially if Democrats nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.
“There’s nobody that can galvanize and unite Republicans like Hillary,” he told The Washington Times.
Mr. Boehner said Republicans’ carefree spending ways helped cost them control of Congress, but that Democrats are not heeding the message voters sent.
“You can look at what they’ve done all year,” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s who they are — higher spending, higher taxes. They believe that government is the answer. Our job is to show the American people that Republicans believe in more limited, accountable and transparent government.”
The House has passed all 12 annual appropriations bills, but none has been agreed to by both chambers and sent to the president’s desk. The new fiscal year began Monday, and Congress was forced to adopt a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running until November.
Mr. Bush has promised to veto 10 of the 12 appropriations bills, setting up a White House showdown with the Democrat-led Congress over spending.
He accused Democrats of gutting true pork-barrel spending reform enacted last year and said Republicans will sustain promised White House vetoes over excessive spending.
“I think it’s a big issue for Republicans if we’re going to restore our brand in the minds of American voters,” he said.
Mr. Boehner, who reportedly wants to oust key staff for poor fundraising at the National Republican Congressional Committee, acknowledged the party’s current disadvantage.
“Our numbers are still mired for a couple of reasons, but that is going to change,” he said. “I was fairly optimistic when I took the job in January. I’m more optimistic today than I was then.”
Mr. Boehner predicted party activists and donors will be energized by the stark differences between Democrats and Republicans over spending, taxes and the war on terror.