Freedom Caucus may oppose next stopgap funding bill

Freedom Caucus may oppose next stopgap funding bill
© Greg Nash

The House Freedom Caucus may not support the next stopgap spending measure, the group’s chairman said Monday night, which could create headaches for GOP leaders as they once again try to map out a strategy to keep the government open past next week.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy GOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Sparks fly as House Judiciary debates impeachment articles MORE (R-N.C.) said there was “overwhelming consensus” among the members who attended a Monday night meeting to oppose yet another temporary funding patch, which would be the fifth since September. Current government funding runs out Feb. 8.

The ultra-conservative group did not take a formal position on a continuing resolution (CR), however, because there weren’t enough members present at the Monday night meeting. But the caucus could meet again as early as Tuesday and take a formal position on the issue, which would require consensus from 80 percent of its members.

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“The general consensus is not to support another CR,” Meadows told reporters. “There is a concern that we continue to agree to a strategy to do just another short-term CR, and those strategies fail to materialize.”

The band of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners has some leverage in the spending talks, since Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUSMCA is nice but no model Anti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks MORE (D-Calif.) has been refusing to supply the Democratic votes for a CR without a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

To win conservative support for the last monthlong government funding bill, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea MORE (R-Wis.) promised Meadows and the Freedom Caucus that he would put a defense funding bill on the House floor and assemble a team to more aggressively whip GOP support for an immigration bill authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.).

So far, leadership has at least held up one end of the bargain, with the House scheduled to vote on a Pentagon funding bill this week that would bust the budget caps for defense programs.

But Meadows expressed frustration that there hasn’t been more aggressive action on the Goodlatte bill

“I have real questions whether that’s actually [being whipped],” Meadows said. “Whipping in words only is not whipping it.”

While the Goodlatte bill reflects a basket of conservative immigration priorities and has buy-in from key committee chairmen, it’s unclear whether it can get 218 GOP votes in the House.

And leadership is also worried that putting the Goodlatte bill on the floor could poison the well on the bipartisan DACA negotiations led by Ryan’s top lieutenant, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE (R-Calif.). The White House last week also unveiled its own immigration framework, which differs greatly from the Goodlatte measure.

“If there is the finger of leadership on the scales to tip something one way or another, that’s not whipping it,” Meadows said.