Boehner on sequester: The Senate has to get off its ass

House Speaker John Boehner told "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley that it is time to tackle spending amid sequester threat.
CBS News

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - "Sequester" is the term Washington uses for the automatic budget cuts, which could happen if the president and Congress cannot arrive at a deal by this Friday. House GOP Speaker John Boehner said the House will not act until the Democrats in the Senate take the lead on writing a bill that achieves savings in a more sensible way.

Boehner was blunt about that earlier Tuesday when he said: "We have moved the bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something."

We followed up with Boehner on his comment in a CBS interview.

Scott Pelley: You said the Senate has to get off its ass.

Boehner: Yeah. It's time for them to do their work.

Pelley: You know, a few weeks ago, you said that the president didn't have the guts to do what needed to be done on the budget; today you said the Senate has to get off its ass. Those don't sound like the words of a man seeking to bring people together to compromise.

Boehner: Now, listen, I've had a very nice conversation with the president last week. I had a very nice conversation with Harry Reid -- Senator Reid -- the majority leader the week before.

Our members want us to have cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget over the next ten years. That's what we want. And that's a tall order. It's gonna mean real work on our entitlement programs, real work on other spending items in the budget.

Pelley: And to be clear, no revenue increases?

Boehner: We're not-- the rev-- the president got his tax hikes in January. The federal government will have more revenue this year than any year in our history. It's time to tackle spending. Period.

Complete coverage: The sequester
Boehner: Sequestration looks likely to happen
On sequester, Boehner tells Senate to get "off their ass"
Sequester impact real but not overnight, Obama says
As sequester looms, public attention flags

Also related to the sequester threat is news of detention cells opening in several states, which means the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants. It drew this reaction from Boehner:

Watch House Speaker John Boehner's reaction to the news of the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention centers amid sequester threat:

Boehner: This is very hard for me to believe that they can't find cuts elsewhere in their agency. I frankly think this is outrageous. And I'm looking for more facts, but I can't believe that they can't find the kind of savings they need out of that department short of letting criminals go free.

Pelley: What do you think is going on here?

Boehner: I think that the administration is trying to play games -- play games with the American people, scare the American people. This is not leadership.

Pelley: You just accused the White House of fear-mongering.

Boehner: They're out there making a lot of noise. What they really ought to be doing is coming up to the Hill and working with the Senate Democrats to pass a bill that can replace the sequester, and begin to deal with our long-term spending problem.

  • Scott Pelley
    Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"