Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase

Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase
© Greg Nash

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP lawmaker says evidence might have been tampered with in Flynn case House postpones vote on compromise immigration bill The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines – First lady makes surprise visit to migrant children at border MORE (R-N.C.) and other conservatives are negotiating with GOP leaders over attaching budget reforms to a debt-ceiling increase, but may face Democratic opposition.

Meadows told reporters at a Republican retreat here Thursday that he and fellow conservatives are pushing for spending reforms in exchange for backing a debt-limit increase next month. 

“I’ve had conversations as recently as yesterday with Director Mulvaney and as recent as last week with Secretary Mnuchin on the debt ceiling, on how we can effectively make some real reforms in that area,” he said, referring to White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump floats tariffs on European cars | Nikki Haley slams UN report on US poverty | Will tax law help GOP? It's a mystery Democrat says he recommended Trump's budget director for his job MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Mnuchin: Tax-filing 'postcard' to be released next week Former top Treasury official to head private equity group MORE

“Based on those initial conversations, a number of Freedom Caucus members could potentially support those efforts,” he added.

Meadows declined to comment on what specific reforms conservatives are demanding.

“There are discussions going on right now about the debt ceiling that I’m not at liberty talk about,” he said. 

 

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The Congressional Budget Office announced Wednesday that the federal government will be unable to pay its obligations fully and may have to delay payments or default on its debt if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit in March.

The agency projects that the Treasury “will most likely run out of cash in the first half of March 2018.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRepublicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (S.D.), the third-ranking Senate GOP leader, said he wants to attach spending reforms to the debt-limit increase but predicted there would be Democratic opposition.

“I would love to see spending reforms attached to it, but I think one way or the other we have to raise the debt limit. We’ve got to make sure the country pays its bills,” he said.

Thune said “there may be” attempts to attach reforms but emphasized “it’s going to take 60 in the Senate” to pass a bill, so GOP leadership will need Democratic support.

Republicans insisted on spending reforms in exchange for raising the debt ceiling when Democrats controlled the White House under President Obama.

Then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE (R-Ohio) tried to implement the so-called BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE Rule under which any increase in the nation’s debt ceiling would be paired with equal or larger reductions in spending.

Obama and Boehner agreed to the 2011 Budget Control Act, which matched a $2.1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling with automatic spending cuts that became known as sequestration.

Congress in recent years has unwound those spending cuts, but budget caps remain a sticking point between the parties that still needs to be resolved for fiscal year 2018.