Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid have charged that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would make a deal with them over federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year if not for pressure from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.
So it was interesting to hear Boehner's response to a question based on that charge that ABC News' George Stephanopoulos put to the speaker in an interview.
The relevant exchange:
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what the Democrats say. They say that they could cut a deal with you, but you won't buck the Tea Party.
SPEAKER BOEHNER: Listen, there's no daylight between the Tea
Party and me.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: None?
SPEAKER BOEHNER: None.
It was perhaps the best and safest response he could have given to a do-you- still-beat-your-wife type of question.
Boehner never said whether he would or wouldn't "buck" the Tea Party elements in his the House Republican Conference. It obviously would be an untenable position for the speaker and leader of House Republicans to indicate that he wasn't running things.
But he also didn't want to play into the hands of his Democratic opponents who want to drive a wedge between him and the most energized part of his party's base.
So he went with the "no daylight" formulation which suggests he and his Tea Party members are marching in lockstep.
But Boehner was speaking very much in the present tense. So that statement could change.
Another Boehner response getting a lot of attention has the potential to give both Republican and Democratic lawmakers heartburn; Boehner said lawmakers shouldn't get paid during the shutdown.
His exchange with Stephanopoulous:
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Should it happen, do you think it's right
for members of Congress to be paid during a shutdown?
SPEAKER BOEHNER: George, our goal is to cut spending not shut
down the government.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that. I know that's not what
you want, but it may happen anyway. And if it doesn't —
SPEAKER BOEHNER: George, George, I have said this a thousand
times since the first of the year, I do not want to shut the
government down —
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, I understand.
SPEAKER BOEHNER: I think that is irresponsible.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that.
SPEAKER BOEHNER: And the House will act as soon as tomorrow to
ensure that the government is open while we work to reduce spending.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I take you at your word that you don't want
a government shutdown. I believe you do not want a government
shutdown. If it happens, do you think members of Congress should get
SPEAKER BOEHNER: No, they shouldn't be getting paid just like
federal employees shouldn't be getting paid.