Congressman Adrian Smith won’t directly contradict House Speaker John Boehner’s criticism of Tea Party groups, but he upholds the right of Tea Party conservatives to be active in the budget process.
“Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is entitled to be involved in this process. I think that more discussion about fiscal matters has been healthy for our country,” Smith tells reporters during a conference call.
Boehner criticized conservative groups associated with the Tea Party after the House approved an $85 billion budget deal worked out earlier. The bill passed 332-94. Among Republicans, 169 supported it with 62 voting against it. Smith was among the 62.
Boehner accused Tea Party groups of misleading their followers and said that they have lost credibility in Washington.
Smith, a Republican, declines to directly react to Boehner’s comments.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but let me emphasize as well that everyone is entitled to be involved in this process of expressing their opinion of what they think Congress should do and let’s move forward and get some things done,” Smith says.
Smith says the two sides within the Republican Party need to concentrate on what they have in common: reducing the size of government.
In defending the right of the Tea Party to lobby Congress to reduce spending, Smith recalls his days on the Gering City Council when no one got involved in its budget process.
“Now that might be convenient for elected officials, but later on there might be someone complaining about a budget impact and, yet, no one was there to be involved,” Smith states. “Involvement is good. Communication is good. Let’s work to find common ground and build from that, because I think that’s what would be good for our economy.”