Countdown to Government Shutdown: Boehner 'Driving a Hard Bargain'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The House today passed a temporary spending bill, introduced by GOP leaders that would keep the government running for an additional week. Fund the military for the rest of the year and cut $12 billion from the budget.

But this bill seems unlikely to save the day. The Senate? Well, they refusing to take it up, and President Obama has already threatened to veto this.

And joining me now with reaction to all of this is Indiana Congressman Mike Pence. Congressman, good to see you, thanks for being here.

REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Well, you know, I guess we go back to -- I'm beginning to wonder if this is what the White House wants. They didn't pass the bill October 1st last year, they didn't pass it in November, they didn't pass it in December.

PENCE: Right.

HANNITY: HR1 was passed, what, 45 days ago.


HANNITY: They haven't taken it up in the Senate, I'm beginning to wonder -- do you think this is their desire to shutdown the government because they think there's a political advantage?

PENCE: You know, I don't know. But, you know, let me be clear. If liberals in the Senate and if this administration want to force a government shutdown instead of accepting two percent in cuts in this year's budget, then you know, I say shut it down. I mean, you know, you've been saying over the last month, I've been saying it is time to pick a fight. I'm here to tell you, Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are picking a fight. And the negotiations are going on right now. Speaker John Boehner is driving a hard bargain. Americans who are concerned with runaway federal spending by both political parties in recent years ought to be proud of this speaker and ought to be standing with House Republicans, come what may in the next 24 hours.

HANNITY: All right. And the question is, and I know a lot of conservatives are very, very concerned about this, they want to make sure that John Boehner, because we're really, it's spinning in an ocean or throwing a pebble in an ocean. Sixty-one billion of a $3.6 trillion budget with a $1.65 trillion deficit, it's nothing.

So, the question is, do you -- would you support any compromise off the $61 billion mark?

PENCE: Well, I think HR1 was a compromise, Sean. I mean, we made a pledge to the American people that we would lower spending levels back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels in our Pledge to America. The American people overwhelmingly voted for a Republican majority in Congress. I think it is important that we keep our word.

And that's precisely what Republicans are dug in and fighting to do as we speak -- $61 billion, against a $1.65 trillion deficit is nothing more than a down payment, it might just be earnest money on restoring physical discipline in Washington, D.C. And I know Republicans are determined to make that fight, we are in that fight. As I said, Speaker John Boehner is driving a hard bargain. And I think taxpayers are going to be the winners when it is over.

HANNITY: What is their argument? Why not $61 billion when the country is $14 trillion -- well, I mean, I'm trying to stand their side. Explain it to me, if you can, because I don't understand it.

PENCE: Well, it gets back down to what you are speculating about at the top of this segment is, you know, it looks like Democrats are willing to shutdown the government to prevent passage of a two percent cut in the federal budget. I mean, it looks like Democrats are prepared to shutdown the government, so they can continue to borrow money from China to underwrite abortion providers in this country. I don't know what the motivations are. But, I think the American people are recognizing more and more as time goes on, nobody in the Republican majority in Congress wants to shutdown the government. But we're not going to lose this moment where we can make a down payment on restoring fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C.

HANNITY: Yes. I think they may think it is 1995 all over again. And I think they are not reading the American people well.

Look, I know a lot of people are afraid, people that get their Social Security checks. People are concerned about the military. People are concerned about very specific programs that people are dependent on. So, what does a government shutdown for all practical terms mean?

PENCE: Well, look, it is not going to be pretty but it is not going to affect Social Security benefits. And if the president -- if the liberals in the Senate and the president will sign a bill that we passed in the House today, it won't affect our troops at all. You know, the troops come first. And so, today Republicans brought to the floor of the Congress a bill that fully funds the Department of Defense through the end of this fiscal year. We embraced a couple more budget cuts, sent it over to the Senate. And immediately it was dismissed by Harry Reid and the president.

And I'm still trying to absorb this, Sean. The commander in chief of Armed Forces of the United States threatened to veto a bill that would fund our troops during a time of war. I just think that is unconscionable. But we can take care of our troops. We can take care of our seniors. It is going to work an inconvenience and hardship on hundreds of thousands of federal employees and the administration or programs. But this fight is that important. And, you know, I've said many times, you know, sometimes things don't change in Washington, D.C. unless they have to.


PENCE: I think the fight that is going on right now, even though if we get the whole $61 billion, if we defund Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, it is just going to be a down payment on changing the direction of the national government. It is going to be important, early victory that will set the stage for victories on the debt ceiling, victories on passing the Paul Ryan budget and in victories as we attempt to really change the fiscal destiny of this country.

HANNITY: If the Republicans do in any way capitulate out of fear of a government shutdown, if we are talking about $61 billion for fiscal year 2011, which the Democrats didn't pass, does that make them vulnerable as they move forward with Paul Ryan's I think pretty bold plan that cuts $6.2 trillion.

PENCE: Well, I think that sometimes small steps boldly taken can change history. You know, you and I talk about this on the radio the other day. You don't compare military battles with political debates. But the principle is the same. You know, you look at 1776, George Washington's armies run all the way across New Jersey. But on Christmas Day, he said, you know, what? We got to win one small battle against these guys. And so, he crosses the Delaware. He beats the British mercenaries and that relights and rekindles the spirit of independence all across the colonies.

I think this little battle does have implications for the major battles over the budget, over the debt ceiling, over all the dramatic reforms of federal programs that are being contemplated today and are necessary to restore fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C. This battle matters. And I think that's why Speaker John Boehner is fighting so hard for taxpayers.

HANNITY: Debbie Wassermann Schultz saying, you know, this is a death trap for seniors. Harry Reid today saying, Republicans don't want women to get cancer screenings. Republicans don't want clean air to breathe. Nancy Pelosi saying that 6 million seniors will be denied meals, if this is passed.

And this again, this is only the $61 billion. And none of which is true. But it does telegraph where the Democrats are going as it relates to any real significant budget cuts in the country as they are going to demagogue this. And do you think that that can be effective? Because I would argue, it was somewhat effective in '95 and '96.

PENCE: Well, let me put a fine point on it, this ain't 1995, OK? The American people, thanks to people like you on television and on the radio, thanks to the Internet, thanks to Twitter and Facebook. The American people are better informed. Better able to break through the clutter and the demagoguery than ever before. And I really believe with all my heart -- I was at a banquet in my hometown here in Indiana tonight, and the unanimous opinion in that room, what I hear all over Indiana and all over the country is, this country is going broke. And this new Republican majority was sent to Washington, D.C., to end the borrowing and the spending and the bailouts by both political parties. What House Republicans are doing in this fight, what we are digging in and standing for is a fundamental change in direction in the fiscal destiny in this country. And that's a fight worth making.

HANNITY: All right. Mike Pence, thanks so much for being with us.

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