Leading off Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared: "It's war. A private battle blows wide open in public as the most powerful Republican in Washington says he's had enough, coming out swinging against members of his own party." Moments later, he hailed House Speaker John Boehner's "rare outburst of candor mixed with anger and frustration" at conservatives critical of the new budget deal in Congress. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams contemptuously observed: "His problem has been the rise of the Tea Party faction, the newly arrived and highly motivated members who do not go along or get along with the wishes of the leadership....Now they've gone after a budget deal that represents real compromise and keeps the country running. The Speaker today decided he's had enough and he said so."
In the report that followed, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell proclaimed: "Today at his final news conference of the year...Boehner took the lid off his long-simmering frustrations aimed at conservative political groups." A clip then played of her giddily asking Boehner: "Are you enjoying this moment, being able to speak up and speak your mind in a way that we haven't seen as much?"
Here is a full transcript of the December 12 segment:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: It's war. A private battle blows wide open in public as the most powerful Republican in Washington says he's had enough, coming out swinging against members of his own party.
7:01PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: Today in Washington, there was a rare outburst of candor mixed with anger and frustration. Whatever anyone thinks about the Speaker of the House, John Boehner may have the toughest job in Washington. His job is to lead his majority party – Republicans in Congress.
His problem has been the rise of the Tea Party faction, the newly arrived and highly motivated members who do not go along or get along with the wishes of the leadership. They forced Boehner's hand in the fiscal cliff and again in the government shutdown. Now they've gone after a budget deal that represents real compromise and keeps the country running. The Speaker today decided he's had enough and he said so.
Kelly O'Donnell was there for it on Capitol Hill today and starts us off from there tonight. Kelly, good evening.
KELLY O'DONNELL: Good evening, Brian. And the House has just done something we haven't seen in a long while. Overwhelmingly passing a budget deal crafted by both Democrats and Republicans, intended to end the crises to crises atmosphere we've been living with.
Now managing his own Republican membership has been tough, but made harder by the influence of outside groups that instantly criticized this deal before it was announced.
Today at his final news conference of the year, House Speaker John Boehner took the lid off his long-simmering frustrations aimed at conservative political groups.
O'DONNELL [TO BOEHNER]: Are you enjoying this moment, being able to speak up and speak your mind in a way that we haven't seen as much?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER [R-SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE]: You know, there just comes to a point when some people step over the line. You know, when you criticize something and you have no idea what you're criticizing, it undermines your credibility.
[FOOTAGE OF TEA PARTY PROTEST]
O'DONNELL: While Boehner owes his speakership to the Tea Party victories that put Republicans in charge three years ago, he doesn't share their political DNA. Boehner is the Chamber-of-Commerce-style Republican, not a firebrand. The Tea Party's headstrong confrontations put his leadership on the rocks repeatedly. But now he has a message for the conservative groups who demanded the government shutdown strategy to stop the health care law.
BOEHNER: The day before the government re-opened, one of the people at one of these groups stood up and said, "Well, we never really thought it would work." Are you kidding me?!
O'DONNELL: The fallout was swift. Those conservative groups who opposed today's budget deal are unbowed.
WHITNEY NEAL [FREEDOMWORKS]: I think we're representing the voices of the American people that are not being represented by their officials in Congress.
O'DONNELL: Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp is Tea Party through and through, and says Boehner is not conservative enough.
REP. TIM HUELSKAMP [R-KS]: I have difficulties trusting anybody in Washington that is dismissive of the American people.
O'DONNELL: The conservative rift over tonight's budget compromise includes prominent GOP senators with their own political futures to consider. Florida's Marco Rubio:
O'DONNELL [TO RUBIO]: Why, as a conservative, do you believe this isn't a deal you can back?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO [R-FL]: It's not just as a conservative, I think it's as an American.
O'DONNELL: The biggest complaint is that this deal would spend more for the government funding over the next couple of years. It doesn't do enough, they say, to reduce the deficit. But more than 330 House members passed this tonight. It's expected to go to the Senate, where it will also pass, maybe putting a lid on some of the crisis mode we've been living with. Brian.
WILLIAMS: An eventful and different kind of day on Capitol Hill. Kelly O'Donnell there for all of it. Kelly, thanks.