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John Boehner Embraces Tea Party Movement

5 years ago
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House Minority Leader John Boehner took his turn at the podium at CPAC Thursday, promising a new era of transparency in Congress and pledging to work with the Tea Party movement that has energized the conservative base, but challenged the GOP establishment in several primaries across the country.

"I pledge to you right here right now, if you elect Republicans in November, we're going to run the House differently," he said. "And I don't mean differently from the way Democrats are running it now. I mean differently from the way Republicans ran it too."

If he becomes the House Speaker, Boehner promised that Republicans would:

-- Post every bill online 72 hours before a House vote;

-- Require committees to make their bills public online;

-- Outlaw "phantom amendments" that are secretly added between the time a committee passes a bill and the time the House votes on it;

-- Put cameras in the Rules committee, the House committee that decides which amendments can be offered to a bill and by whom;

-- Ban the practice of "air dropping" earmarks, another last-minute tactic to add funding measures to legislation without scrutiny;

-- Outlaw "monuments to me," namely federal buildings or projects named after lawmakers that become favorites for federal spending.

CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- is put on every year by the American Conservative Union, the organization founded by William F. Buckley Jr. It runs from Thursday to Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Boehner said he would continue to insist that Democrats scrap their health care bills and start over to win bipartisan compromise, and will also push for entitlement reform and continued prohibition of federal funding for abortions.

Finally, Boehner announced that he is working on a document similar to the 1994 Contract with America that will articulate how Republicans would lead if they win the elections.

"It's not going to be a document handed down from on high," he said, adding that it will combine elements of the Mt. Vernon Statement being circulated by party stalwarts, as well as the Contract From America, the document crafted by the Tea Party Patriots group through online voting.

"We're Going to listen to the Tea Party movement," he said. "While the other side is busy mocking the Tea Party movement, we're going to list to them, we're going to walk amongst them, we're going to stand with them."

He also suggested that the Republican Party should not attempt to co-opt the Tea Party movement for its own purposes. "That's the dumbest thing in the world," he said.

Boehner believes Republicans can take back the House in 2010, since they would need 40 seats to win control, far fewer than the 54 seats they won from Democrats in 1994.

"We all know there is a political rebellion brewing in America."

Boehner's embrace of the Tea Party movement is a calculated risk for the minority leader, since the movement has no leader, no infrastructure and mechanism to control it or its loosely affiliated members.

But the risk could pay off if Tea Party members put their voices and energy behind the GOP instead of against it. CPAC's director, Lisa DePasquale, said attendance at the conference is up 20 percent over last year, and added that new Tea Party attendees accounted for much of the difference.

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