Freedom Caucus won't demand October shutdown over wall

Freedom Caucus won't demand October shutdown over wall

The conservative House Freedom Caucus will not push for border wall funding as part of the expected stopgap funding bill next month, according to the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

"In talking to a number of my members, if there was a vote for a continuing resolution next week that did not include border wall funding, the majority of those members would be supportive of that," Meadows said in a Tuesday interview on ABC’s "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

That position exposes a rift with President Trump, who said last week that he would shut down the government over funding for a wall along the southern border, one of his central campaign promises.

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"Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump told a raucous rally in Phoenix.

Meadows's stance will be welcome news to House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.), who is under pressure to change the perception that Republicans are unable to govern, even as they control both chambers of Congress and the White House. Tensions between Trump and congressional leaders have surged as efforts to pass major legislation, such as a healthcare overhaul, have fumbled.

But the Freedom Caucus isn't backing off its support for a showdown on the wall so much as postponing it.

Government funding will run out at the end of September, and Congress is looking to deploy a three-month stopgap measure — a continuing resolution — to prevent a shutdown come October.

Pushing off the border wall fight would buy Congress time to take care of several major obstacles with September deadlines, such as raising the debt ceiling, and the time-sensitive issue of providing relief from Hurricane Harvey.

Meadows said the extra time would allow Congress to continue fleshing out its spending bills for the 2018 fiscal year.

But Meadows is still prepared to go to battle over the debt ceiling, which needs to be raised by Sept. 29 in order to prevent a catastrophic government default. That could complicate a proposed plan to roll up Harvey disaster funding with the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution into one must-pass piece of legislation that could rid the Republicans of several headaches in one fell swoop.

On Tuesday, Meadows also did an about-face on funding disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey, saying he would not demand budgetary offsets for such spending. Meadows voted against two 2013 bills to provide relief and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

- This report was updated at 2:43 p.m.