Boehner protests Obama threat to veto spending bills implementing GOP budget

WASHINGTON – White House veto threats against legislation that implements spending cuts in the austere GOP budget plan are “reckless” and would lead to a government shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.

Boehner, R-Ohio, said the veto warnings mean Obama is threatening to shut down the government unless he wins tax increases and higher spending.

The White House said Monday that Obama will veto any legislation implementing the GOP’s budget, which endorses spending levels forced by across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration and shifts about $30 billion from nondefense programs to the Pentagon.

“No one wants to make more progress on deficits than I do. I’ve been working at it for years now. I know how hard it is,” Boehner said. “That’s why the idea of shutting down the government if we can’t find a deal is so irresponsible.”

But even with a budget impasse, a government shutdown could be averted if Congress approved separate stopgap legislation. Such measures, known as continuing resolutions, are routine, and there hasn’t been a government shutdown since the 1995-96 confrontation between President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress.

The two sides finessed their differences earlier this year by agreeing to a catchall spending bill permitting $1.043 trillion for agency operations funded annually by Congress. Across-the-board cuts automatically reduced spending to $986 billion and could be implemented again if the ongoing budget impasse isn’t broken.

Republicans are drafting spending bills for the upcoming budget year at a lower $967 billion cap. The White House supports a level $91 billion higher.

“We simply won’t sign into law the Republican budget, which would drastically slash the investments the middle class, seniors and our economic growth depend on,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage. “It’s time for Speaker Boehner to match his promises of an end to manufactured crises with actions.”