Embattled outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) discussed his tenure in Congress in a Fox News exit interview Friday, saying it is the failed grand bargain with President Barack Obama he regrets most.
Boehner passed the speaker's gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) Thursday and will resign his post in Congress at the end of the month.
When asked if he had to choose between passing comprehensive immigration reform, repealing Obamacare or achieving the grand bargain, Boehner was quick to answer.
“The grand bargain by far,” he said. “It would have really meant a lot for our economy. It would have put our entitlement programs on a stronger foundation — no question.”
Boehner said he was “shocked” when the deal fell through, describing how close he felt he was to achieving it. He said in the end it was Obama who walked away from the negotiating table, causing the country to have a “real struggle” and experience “a lot more than it needed to as a result.”
Boehner recounted his version of the negotiation with the president, saying the two shook hands and “the deal was done.” According to Boehner, the bargain would have meant $5 trillion in deficit reduction and would have put the government on a path to “fixing our entitlement programs.”
Frustrations aside, Boehner told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer he and Obama “have a good relationship” despite their many disagreements.
As to whether or not the outgoing speaker accomplished all he hoped in his 25 years on Capitol Hill, Boehner didn’t have a direct answer.
“I played a role in a fight that’s been going on for over 200 years — over the appropriate size, scope and cost of government, he said. “But I began to realize over the years that there’s no winning this fight.”
But when asked about his proudest moment, Boehner immediately said it was Pope Francis’ speech to the joint session of Congress in September.
“Listen, I’m an alter boy from Reading, Ohio, all right?” Boehner told Hemmer. “And I tried for 20 years to get a pope to come and address a joint session of Congress. And I was able to do it while I was the speaker. It was a big day.”
(H/T: Business Insider)