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 MeadowsRepublicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Graham to renew call for second special counsel 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 MulvaneyProtect the Military Lending Act On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner Mnuchin5 things to know about Trump's escalating trade war with China On The Money: Trump signs first 2019 'minibus' spending package | Mueller probing transactions by Russian organizers of Trump Tower meeting | Stocks brush off trade fears On The Money: Cohen reportedly questioned over Trump dealings with Russia | Trump hails economy | Tells workers to 'start looking' if they want a better job | Internal poll shows tax law backfiring on GOP 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 ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches 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 BoehnerBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker MORE (R-Ohio) tried to implement the so-called BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBlue wave poses governing risks for Dems Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker 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.