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 MeadowsTrump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Gun store billboard going after the 'Squad' being removed following backlash Hurd retirement leaves GOP gloomy on 2020 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 PelosiAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Pelosi hits Trump, Netanyahu for 'weakness' amid tensions over Omar and Tlaib In Hong Kong, the need for peaceful persistence 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 RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' 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 GoodlatteImmigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute 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 McCarthyTrump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Tlaib says she won't visit Israel after being treated like 'a criminal' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy 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.