John Boehner never had any doubt that his last major act as speaker—cutting a two-year budget deal with congressional leaders and the White House—would be a success.
“It’s a solid agreement,” he said Tuesday morning at what was likely his last press conference, “and there isn’t a reason why any member should vote against this.”
The deal, which still needs to be voted on, is the result of weeks-long negotiations, during which Boehner took the lead. It would increase spending caps by $80 million, raise the nation’s debt limit ahead of the November 3 deadline, and make long-term changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.
Boehner described a laundry list of perks for which the agreement provides: It protects the economy, “brings more certainty” to next year’s appropriations process, reduces the deficit, strengthens the U.S. military, and “protects more Americans from Obamacare,” among other benefits.
But even though those provisions seem tailor-made for the Republican caucus, the most conservative wing of the House, its Freedom Caucus, isn’t so hot about the deal. Asked if he’s prepared for backlash, Boehner said that when officials come to a “bipartisan agreement in a town that’s not really known for bipartisanship … you’re gonna see bricks flying.”
The deal could come to a vote Wednesday, the day the House GOP is slated to vote for Boehner’s successor, Rep. Paul Ryan. One of Boehner’s goals in nailing down the agreement was to makes things a little easier for Ryan when he takes over as speaker, as is expected.
“I didn’t want him to walk into a dirty barn full of you-know-what,” Boehner said. And he agreed with Ryan’s criticism that the behind-closed-doors process leaders used to hammer out the agreement’s details “stinks.”
“This is not the way to run a railroad,” but he said the alternatives would be worse. He said this deal will make next year “a whole lot smoother” for Congress to do its business.
Boehner, for his part, will likely be checked out on a golf course somewhere when next year rolls around. His fellow Republicans gave him golf-related gifts this week as going-away presents, he said Tuesday, telling reporters, “I like that I see light at the end of the tunnel.”
In the last question of the morning, Boehner was asked by a reporter what his best day at the job has been. The speaker cited the reauthorization of a bill last week having to do with school vouchers in Washington, tearing up while talking about the legislation. He acknowledged how “I get pretty wound up” when discussing children’s education.
As he left the lectern, photographers began snapping away at a misty-eyed Boehner.
“Like they don’t have enough pictures of me,” he said, walking out the door.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.