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Freedom Caucus Likely to Oppose Next Stopgap Funding Bill

Meadows cites “overwhelming consensus” in hard-line conservative group

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows says the general consensus in his hard-line conservative group is to not support another continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows says the general consensus in his hard-line conservative group is to not support another continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Freedom Caucus members are likely to oppose another continuing resolution needed to keep the government funded beyond Feb. 8, yet again raising questions whether House Republicans can pass one given that Democrats are also expected to oppose it.

“The general consensus is not to support another CR,” caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said after the hard-line conservative group’s weekly meeting Monday night.

While the caucus lacked a quorum to take an official position on the CR or immigration, which they also discussed, “there was overwhelming consensus of the people that were there” to vote against another stopgap funding bill, the North Carolina Republican said.

“I think there’s a concern that we continue to agree to a strategy to do just another short-term CR and those strategies fail to materialize,” Meadows said.

House conservatives and defense hawks have pushed GOP leadership to break off defense appropriations from funding for domestic agencies and successfully lobbied them using leverage from the last CR to hold another vote on defense funding. That vote, scheduled for Tuesday, is “a step in the right direction but it’s only one part of a multifaceted approach,” Meadows said.

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Late last year, the House GOP Conference also debated ways it might be able to force the Senate to vote on full-year defense funding with a CR for remaining agencies. A bill marrying the two was considered but leadership found it lacked the votes, in large part because some members were concerned that a separate disaster aid package would not get a vote. Ultimately, the House just voted on a short-term CR, as well as the disaster aid bill. 

“Each and every time we’ve had a number of short-term strategies … some of those strategies have failed to be deployed,” Meadows said.

Most House Democrats have opposed the last three CRs and that is likely to continue, absent a sweeping budget agreement. The minority party is seeking a deal that lifts the sequestration spending caps for defense and nondefense with equal increases and funds priorities such as community health centers and opioid prevention. They also want a deal on protecting so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.

Since such an agreement has proved elusive and unlikely to be reached in the short time frame before the Feb. 8 deadline, especially with a three-day recess this week for the GOP retreat, House Republicans can’t count on Democrats to help them pass a CR.

That’s why support from the 36-member Freedom Caucus is key. While Meadows wouldn’t rule out striking another deal for his group’s support, he said the reluctance to do so has grown.

“We’re getting late in the year and at what point do you continue to do short-term CRs without a big difference in results,” he said.

The Freedom Caucus will continue its discussions on the CR and immigration later this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, Meadows said. The group may take an official position at that time but no final decisions have been made.

Immigration was part of the group’s agreement with leadership on the last CR. Republican leaders agreed to whip support for a conservative measure by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte that would provide a three-year renewable status for Dreamers covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, fund a border wall and eliminate extended family visas and the diversity visa lottery program.

Meadows said Monday he has real questions as to whether leadership would follow through with their commitment to whip support for the Goodlatte bill, noting, “Whipping in words only is not whipping it.”

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