Speaker of the House John Boehner lobbed a fresh grenade Thursday in the ongoing civil war within the Republican Party, decrying conservative outside groups who have stymied him at nearly every turn over the last year.
“Frankly, I think they’re misleading their followers. I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be. And frankly, I just think that they’ve lost all credibility,” he said at a press conference. “They pushed into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government. Most of you know, my members know, that wasn’t exactly the strategy that I had in mind. But if you recall, the day before the government reopened, one of the people that — one of these groups stood up and said, ‘Well, we never really thought it would work.’ Are you kidding me?”
Boehner also defended the bipartisan budget deal that will be voted on Thursday. “I thought it was my job and my obligation to stand up for conservatives here in the Congress who want more deficit reduction,” he said. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the budget deal would reduce deficits by roughly $85 billion over the next 10 years, although it does increase discretionary spending over the next two years while undoing some $63 billion in scheduled across-the-board cuts.
After a tumultuous year that began with a failed effort by the conservative minority to unseat Boehner and included a three-week government shutdown over Obamacare, the speaker said he’s in a better position now. “I actually do feel like we’re in a better place,” he said.
On CNN Wednesday, conservative Rep. Raul Labrador expressed frustration that Boehner is turning his sights on the outside groups. “In fact it’s a shame, because in our conference, we have members of our conference that are constantly pulling out their cards and saying that they’ll do whatever John Boehner tells them to do,” he said. “I was really saddened to see John Boehner do this, and I’ve actually had a good relationship with him.”
“When it comes to ‘credibility,’ actions speak louder than words,” said Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group. “The math is not that complicated. They are spending another $63 billion that we don’t have.”
On Wednesday, the Republican Study Committee, a group of House Republicans that steers the conservative agenda, fired longtime executive director Paul Teller in part for leaking information to outside groups during the 16 day government shutdown. A letter signed by the Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, For America, Tea Party Patriots, and other rightward leaning organizations defended Teller, calling him “one of the true heroes of the conservative movement.”
GOP leadership aides tell TIME that the budget deal will likely pass the House Thursday with a majority of Republican votes.