Freedom Caucus won’t support House budget resolution

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is unwilling to vote for the House budget resolution that’s scheduled to be considered in committee on Wednesday, a source told The Hill on Monday.

“They don’t want to vote for a vehicle to a tax package they’ve not seen,” the GOP source with knowledge of the conservative bloc’s thinking said.   

“Additionally, they have issues with the budget levels and would support something closer in line to the president’s budget,” the source added.

The source added that Freedom Caucus has yet to issue a formal position for or against the budget, but noted that spending and tax reform details are the primary concerns. An official position could be released later in the week.

{mosads}Last week, the Freedom Caucus said it needed full details on President Trump’s tax reform plan, which will have serious implications for the nation’s debt. Members have also been determined to either reduce discretionary spending levels, or counter them with cuts on the mandatory side. 

Those cuts would come primarily from anti-poverty programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare support, in part through introducing more work requirements to qualify for such aid.

The 31-member-strong caucus could sink a budget resolution on the House floor. With 218 votes needed to pass the resolution, the 240-member Republican caucus cannot afford to lose more than 22 votes. No Democrats are expected to vote for the resolution. 

The Freedom Caucus is “looking for a resolution to move forward,” the source said. 

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who sits on the Budget Committee, told The Hill he’s currently undecided on the GOP budget, predicting the vote will be close.

“In light of the healthcare cluster in the Senate,” Brat said, “I need to see our tax plan [without] [the border-adjustment tax] as well as the welfare to work language in the budget instructions before I can vote yes.”

Three Freedom Caucus members are on the Budget Committee, which would be able to pass the resolution out of committee without their support. 

But the centrist Tuesday Group may also oppose the measure when it reaches the floor.

At the end of June, 20 Tuesday Group members signed a letter objecting to using the budget resolution to carry out large mandatory spending cuts, and demanding a bipartisan approach to the budget. 

“Absent such a bipartisan, bicameral agreement, we are reticent to support any budget resolution on the House floor,” the letter said. 

If the group were to sway just three more House Republicans to oppose the budget resolution, it could prevent the measure from moving forward.

Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had been working to ensure that the budget offered in committee would be able to pass on the floor. 

If they fail, however, they could still pass a “shell” budget resolution before striking a spending deal with Democrats that would serve only to pave the way forward for tax reform. The bill would include instructions that would allow tax code changes to pass through reconciliation, a workaround to the Senate filibuster. 

Scott Wong contributed to this report

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