Chaffetz: Not Speaker’s Job to Drive ‘Personal Agenda,’ Doesn’t Give Boehner Specific Grade

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) argued it wouldn’t be his job as speaker to drive his “personal agenda” through the House and declined to give Speaker Representative John Boehner (R-OH) a specific grade on Tuesday’s “Sean Hannity Show.”

Chaffetz, when asked how he would grade Boehner, said, “there are some things I’m very appreciative, other things, you just want to rip your hair out, I’m so absolutely frustrated, and I can tell you some good things and some bad things.” Chaffetz declined to give Boehner to give a specific letter grade, stating this was a “trap,” and that he wouldn’t kick Boehner on his way out of the speakership, but did say Hannity’s D- grade for Boehner is “very generous.”

More specifically, Chaffetz did praise Boehner for getting rid of earmarks, but criticized him on the debt and deficit, adding, “that’s my biggest concern, that we don’t just roll over when the president says, ‘Well, I’m not even going to negotiate.'”

Chaffetz was then asked if he would fight to defund Obamacare, the president’s executive action on immigration, Planned Parenthood, and “do whatever you can do to stop this bad Iranian deal.” Chaffetz began his response by expressing his personal objection to the Iran deal and amnesty, and pointed to his votes to defund Obamacare before saying, “We have not done as much as we can, or should, or will do to defund critical parts of that.”

He then said that the speaker’s role isn’t to drive their “personal agenda” through the body, but rather that “respect for every member and what they want” is important, and that bills that do defunding have to go through regular order. He added, he would “drive home the discussion with our members, find out where we’re going to hold the line, and then win the negotiation.”

Chaffetz did say, after being asked, that there were missed opportunities to defund Obamacare, the president’s executive action on immigration, and Planned Parenthood. When asked if Congress should have used the power of the purse to defund the three, responded, “I want to say all of them, because there are certain ways that the funding for — that have to be addressed. So, I think conceptually I’m saying the same thing. Can you do it all in one fell swoop? No, because some’s in mandatory some — spending, some is in discretionary spending, but, personally, that’s what I want to do. But the role of the speaker is to create a fair and even process to let amendments and regular order reign.”

He added that he hates continuing resolutions, and wants to fight on these issues, and Congress needs “a fresh start.” He continued, “If we don’t show the American people that we’re fighting on these key issues, then shame on us, and we won’t be here very long.” He further stated the GOP needs to get bills on the president’s desk or risk being the minority party, and that he wants to have this charge.

Chaffetz re-iterated that his job is to “represent what the body produces,” and that he doesn’t think Boehner was “right on that.”

He further stated that the fight should be taken to the US Senate, and that “trying to manage by crisis” is a bad idea.

Chaffetz also argued that the House Freedom Caucus has “some very legitimate points to make on process.” He continued that even more centrist members are frustrated with the “top-down” process in Congress.

Earlier, Chaffetz stated that after reflecting on the decision to strip Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) he “realized that was a bit out of character for me, and it was a bit harsh.” Chaffetz added that both he and Meadows “personally and professionally are better for it.”

Chaffetz also said that Meadows’ removal was his decision, and wasn’t something he was ordered to do by leadership, and that he overstepped, but “ultimately” did the right thing, and this demonstrates what kind of leader he would be as speaker.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett