Rep. John Fleming publicly rebukes Boehner: Don’t make promises to national media without talking to us first

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming issued a statement late Thursday rebuking Speaker of the House John Boehner for making promises to the national news media without first discussing the pledges with fellow House Republicans.

In an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer on Thursday, Boehner promised that Republicans in Congress next year would focus primarily on developing a “comprehensive approach” to immigration reform, as well as on searching for new revenues for the federal government.

But Boehner apparently didn’t clear that message with members of his own caucus before preaching it to the national news media.

“I’m concerned that Speaker Boehner is getting ahead of House Republicans when he commits to getting a ‘comprehensive approach’ to immigration taken care of ‘once and for all,’” Fleming said in a late Thursday evening statement.

“There’s been zero discussion of this issue within the conference, and I’m urging the Speaker to talk with House Republicans before making pledges on the national news. The first thing we need is for President Obama to finally enforce current immigration law and strengthen our borders. To take up any other agenda is bad policy for the American people and bad politics for Republicans. The Speaker needs to pull back on this issue and stop negotiating in public.”

Fleming also said he’s concerned that Boehner was willing to even consider talking with liberals about allowing more tax revenue into the system, when spending in Washington is still out of control.

“I also am puzzled by the Speaker’s willingness to put new tax revenue on the table when the expiring Bush tax rates come before Congress,” Fleming said. “Let’s be clear, raising taxes during a very slow recovery is likely to lead to another recession, and it will do absolutely nothing to balance the budget. Washington does not tax too little, it spends way too much.  I am concerned that the Speaker’s comments, while vague, are inferred by many as a willingness by Republicans to raise taxes; that would be a big mistake.”

Boehner has aggressively walked back reports that he’d be open to raising taxes the day after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

After the initial blowback on those reports – and the idea that Boehner would agree to higher taxes “under the right conditions” – Boehner has claimed that what he really meant was that he favored generating new federal revenues via tax reform and closing tax code loopholes.

Boehner gave the interview to ABC’s Sawyer in the first place amid concerns he was going to cave to liberals after those comments on Wednesday.

“Raising tax rates is unacceptable,” Boehner said. “Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate. The votes aren’t there.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came to Boehner’s defense on taxes on Thursday and bashed conservative detractors —– those both inside and outside the GOP — for thinking Republicans will yield to liberals after the president’s re-election.

In a statement to Breitbart News, McConnell said the election “was a disappointment, without doubt, but let’s be clear about something: the House is still run by Republicans, and Republicans still maintain a robust minority in the Senate.”

“I know some people out there think Tuesday’s results mean Republicans in Washington are now going to roll over and agree to Democrat demands that we hike tax rates before the end of the year. I’m here to tell them there is no truth to that notion whatsoever,” McConnell said.

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Matthew Boyle