Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan defended conservative advocacy groups as an "indispensable" part of the GOP coalition after Speaker John Boehner had lashed out at those same groups for opposing a bipartisan budget framework that Ryan had helped author.
“I think these are very important elements of our conservative family,” he told Meet the Press moderator David Gregory in an interview airing on Sunday. “I would prefer to keep those conversations within the family.”
After a week in Washington that had laid bare many of the familiar dividing that separate elected Republicans and their party's insurgent, conservative wing, Ryan made nice with many of the groups that had mobilized in opposition to the budget agreement he forged with Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
"I think these taxpayer groups are indispensable to keeping taxpayer interest accounted for, keeping people accountable," Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee said.
"And we sometimes have difference of opinions on tactics," he added. "We all believe the same thing with respect to our ultimate goal."
The House overwhelmingly approved the Ryan-Murray budget on Thursday with bipartisan support, though 62 House Republicans and 32 Democrats voted in opposition to the measure. The Senate is expected to take up the budget, which would stabilize government operations through late 2015, on Tuesday.
Though the budget proposal won over most House Republicans -- due, in part, to the sway Ryan holds among fiscal conservatives -- it did so over the objection of groups like the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity. Each of those groups had urged lawmakers to oppose the budget because it set spending levels above "sequester" caps. Those groups had alerted members that they would tally votes for purposes of yearly "scorecards" that can often prove influential during GOP primary fights in House and Senate races.
The opposition from conservative groups provoked rare backlash from Boehner, who said those groups "have lost all credibility," and suggested they are more interested in raising money than electing GOP lawmakers.
In his interview with NBC, Ryan sought to explain the speaker's harsh words toward those outside groups.
"I think John just kind of got his Irish up," Ryan said. "He was frustrated that these groups came out in opposition to our budget agreement before we reached a budget agreement. I was frustrated, too … I think he was just basically voicing his frustration with their opposition before we had reached our agreement."
Both Ryan and his negotiating partner, Murray, addressed the new budget deal as well as the impact Obamacare might have in next fall's midterm elections. Murray dismissed the notion that the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act's exchanges might weigh on Democrats next November.
"I do not believe they will," said Murray, the former head of Senate Democrats' campaign efforts. "I think people will see the results of this law, meaning more security for themselves, in terms of their own health care coverage."
First published December 13 2013, 12:14 PM