Boehner: Up to Democrats to prevent budget cuts
"It's hard to imagine that you could reconcile (the separate budgets) the House and Senate pass," Boehner said. "But at some point, in some manner, it almost has to happen if we're going to deal with our long-term spending problem."
In March, the House and Senate will take up competing long-term budget blueprints. In a break with past years, House Republicans promise to balance the budget within a decade — without additional tax increases beyond the $600 billion-plus in tax increases on wealthier earners won by Obama as part of a deal to keep the rest of the Bush-era tax cuts.
He said that an impasse with Senate Democrats, who insist their rival budget plan will raise taxes and contain softer budget cuts, is probably inevitable.
Also looming is the need to pass legislation financing the government through the budget year ending Sept. 30. Here, at least, Boehner saw some promise, predicting a resolution will pass soon to head off a partial shutdown.
Washington's most powerful Republican was also non-committal on two of Obama's top second-term initiatives: overhauling the nation's immigration laws and enacting stricter gun control measures.
On immigration, Boehner told the AP he was "encouraged" by bipartisan efforts to reform the nation's fractured laws, but wouldn't say whether he would support a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. Nor would he commit to a pathway to citizenship for the so-called "dreamers" — young people brought to the U.S illegally.
"I'm not getting myself locked into a corner on what I'm for or what I'm against," he said.
On gun control, Boehner said he would consider measures passed by the Democratic-led Senate, but would not pledge to hold votes on any of Obama's core principles, including universal background checks for all gun purchasers. The expanded background checks are broadly supported by the public.
While not outright opposing background checks or Obama's other calls for limiting assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the speaker said he preferred focusing on the link between mass shootings and mental health issues.
"When you look at all these mass shootings, almost every one of the individuals involved has a history of mental illness. So why don't we focus in on something real that really can attempt to minimize this problem, as opposed to some quick political fix that gives people a false sense of security," Boehner said. "There could be some link between mental illness and background checks. there's a nexus there where you could have some real impact."
Despite the sometimes frustrating nature of the job, Boehner says he'll run for Speaker again in two years, assuming Republicans keep control of the House.
"Absolutely. I've got a big job to do and I intend to get it done."
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