Boehner: ‘Democrats Are Rooting for a Government Shutdown’

By Dan Joseph | March 31, 2011 | 4:00 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( - House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he believes that Democrats are hoping for a government shutdown to score political points. With the fiscal year already half over, the two parties have been unable to agree on a budget, instead funding government operations with stopgap bills called continuing resolutions.

“Here’s the bottom line. Democrats are rooting for a government shutdown,” Bohner said at a Capitol Hill Press conference. "We’re listening to the people who sent us here to cut spending so we can grow our economy. As I’ve said from the beginning, our goal is to cut spending, not shut down the government.”

Boehner’s comments came only days after former DNC Chairman Howard Dean said that he thought that a government shutdown would be politically beneficial to the Democratic Party.

"If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it," Dean said. "I know who's going to get blamed. We've been down this road before."

Dean was referring to a pair of government shutdowns that occurred in 1995 and 1996.  Public opinion at the time showed that Americans blamed the Republican-controlled Congress for the shutdown and many believe that it helped President Bill Clinton get re-elected in 1996.

Despite the possibility of a government shutdown, Boehner told reporters that he was going to continue to support HR 1, a Republican budget bill that already has failed in the Senate.

“We’re going to fight for H.R. 1. It’s what the House passed. It’s the only bill to fund the government through September 30th that’s passed either house. It’s our position, and we’re going to continue to fight for everything that’s in it.”

Boehner was asked to respond to criticism from some Tea Party members who do not believe that Boehner is being aggressive enough in his efforts to cut federal spending. “Listen,” Boehner said. “I’m glad that they’re here, and I’m glad that they’re engaged in the process.”

Despite being “well aware” of the Tea Party’s desire to attach riders that would defund Obamacare into the budget, Boehner explained that there are limits to what he can do when it comes to top Tea Party priorities.

“We control one-half of one-third of the government here in Washington. We can’t impose our will on another body. We can’t impose our will on the Senate. All we can do is to fight for all of the spending cuts that we can be in agreement to, and the spending limitations as well.

Boehner said that contrary to some reports, there is no budget agreement between Democrats and Republicans at the current time.

If a budget or a continuing resolution is not signed by President Obama by April 8th, the government will shut down until an agreement can be reached.