Conservatives pressure leaders to punt spending deals to next year

Conservatives pressure leaders to punt spending deals to next year
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GOP groups are seizing on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s victory in an attempt to avert the long-dreaded spending deal with President Obama in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

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Members of the Republican Study Committee are renewing their calls for leadership to hold off on negotiating this year’s spending bill process until after Obama leaves office.

RSC Chairman Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Trump calls on House Republicans to let committee chairs stay on the job longer Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback MORE of Texas said in an interview that his members are backing a short-term spending bill that goes through Feb. 28. That would give the next Congress and the incoming president about five weeks to approve the budget for 2017, which was initially due in September.

It’s an idea that conservatives, led by groups such as Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, had first floated this summer, long before Trump’s surprise victory on Tuesday.

Calls to kick the appropriations process into next year received a lukewarm reception on Capitol Hill earlier this year, with the prospect of a Democratic-controlled White House and Senate looming.

That calculation has now drastically changed.

With the GOP keeping control of Congress and a Republican ready to move into the White House, conservatives are newly hopeful that they can avoid a hugely unpopular omnibus deal next month.

“I think we’re going to get some traction this time,” Flores said, adding that he has heard positive signs from House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE’s (R-Wis.) office. “There’s absolutely no reason to spend any time negotiating with [retiring Senate Democratic Leader] Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid warns Trump 'can be reelected' Homeland Security Republican accuses Navy of withholding UFO info Poll: 47 percent back limits on Senate filibuster MORE or Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Trump: Cokie Roberts 'never treated me nicely' but 'was a professional' Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE.”

Trump’s election has entirely reshaped Congress’s plans the next four weeks, during which GOP leaders were expecting to push through one last year-end spending deal with Obama.

Republicans had planned to return to Congress next week to finish work on several appropriations bill packages, known as “mini-buses,” with the green light from Democrats.

GOP leaders now see little reason to get the other party’s approval to pass the remaining 11 appropriations bills by Dec. 9.

Neither the House nor the Senate GOP conferences have fully debriefed on the next steps for appropriations in the wake of Election Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters his members “really haven't talked about that,” when asked about their plans on Wednesday.

The Senate GOP is expected to discuss strategy during its weekly luncheon on Tuesday, and appropriations will likely be a focus for House Republicans during their policy conference call on Thursday.

Much of the outcome will depend on Trump, who must quickly decide whether GOP leaders should clear the decks or let him get involved during the precious first 100 days of his presidency.

Trump met with both Ryan and McConnell on Thursday — their first chance to discuss the GOP’s agenda next year.

Republican leaders will face some resistance within their party if they opt for another short-term spending deal, however.

Some of the party’s defense hawks have made clear they would prefer to immediately fund the Pentagon and other key agencies rather than to waiting to secure partisan victories next year.  

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s worried about adding another item to Trump’s plate in the first 100 days.

“We have so much to do next year. Let’s not try to do this year’s business next year. It delays everything,” Cole told The Hill.

“This could actually get a lot of stuff done. That takes a lot of pressure off the Trump administration.”

Still, he said he would take the cue from Trump world.

“I don’t pretend to know what Mr. Trump wants. If he wanted us to do a [continuing resolution] and leave it open, then we should."

“But my advice to him would be don’t do it, You’re going to buy more trouble and it’s going to take more time than you think,” he added.

Cole and other defense hawks find themselves in the unique position of siding with the Obama White House.

Press secretary Josh Earnest made the case Thursday against another short-term bill, which would likely leave many Democratic priorities off the table.

Earnest said Obama has spoken with Republican leadership to “urge them to fulfill their basic responsibility” in passing budget bills. He specifically warned that the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies could face dangerous uncertainty under another short-term spending bill.

“Just funding them two or three or four months at a time is not a smart way to do it,” Earnest said. “The president believes it’s important to give them certainty so that they can make longer-term decisions with confidence.”

Some House Democrats, meanwhile, are fully expecting a CR — with input from Trump's team.

"We'll pass some kind of CR, and frankly, probably take our cues from the incoming administration about how long a CR they want," Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (D-Va.) said by phone Thursday.

Mike Lillis and Jordain Carney contributed.