- Republicans are attempting to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government open beyond the current Friday deadline.
- Conservative GOP members in the House Freedom Caucus have so far not supported the current plan.
- The Freedom Caucus wants a longer-term funding solution for the military and a conservative deal on immigration reform as part of the negotiations.
Republicans are attempting to put together a plan to avoid a government shutdown, but some of the biggest pushback is coming from the right wing of their own party.
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of around 30 hardline conservative members of the House, have raised serious problems with the current government funding bill introduced in the House on Tuesday.
The bill includes funding for the government until February 16, a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and a reprieve from three taxes created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Despite the attempt to appease to conservatives with the ACA tax delays, the Freedom Caucus is still not on board with the plan, leaving it in danger.
No Democrat is expected to vote for the package because it does not contain immigration fixes demanded by Democrats. That means House Speaker Paul Ryan needs every GOP member on board in order to avoid a shutdown by the end of Friday.
Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that the group was not behind the deal and that GOP leaders currently don’t have enough votes to pass the bill.
According to Meadows, the group has two main goals for the funding fight: long-term funding for the military and a vote on a conservative immigration package.
“We’re not making demands,” Meadows told Business Insider. “I said that earlier. What we want to do is make sure that we address immigration in a real way, that we have a plan, and that ultimately what we do is fund our military without bankrupting the country.”
The Freedom Caucus is against the idea of a short-term funding bill – called a continuing resolution (CR) – because it leaves many agencies in limbo in terms of funding. Of particular importance to the Freedom Caucus is the military, whose leaders have decried previous CRs.
Meadows also said that the group does not want to see funding for non-defence spending increased to a level equal with defence funding. Democrats want a 1:1 increase in military and non-defence spending, while Republicans want roughly twice the amount of money for defence.
“To increase the government – the non-defence side of government – by 13 to 14 per cent is a pay raise that I can’t support, nor should we support,” Meadows said.
Additionally, Freedom Caucus members want the leadership to commit to a vote on an immigration bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte. The bill would codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, a key demand of Democrats, but also include stringent immigration changes that may not be palatable to the opposing party.
When asked if there needs to be movement from the House GOP leadership on the Goodlatte bill to support the CR, Freedom Caucus member Rep. David Brat said that was a minimum.
“Oh yeah, more than a promise,” Brat told Business Insider. “Motion they’re gonna whip it, they’re gonna move it, they’re gonna try to pass it.”
Brat used the example of the recently-passed tax reform bill as a model for the immigration push. The tax bill started in the House and was moderated in the Senate in order to get enough votes to pass there.
“You look at tax, what’d they do on tax?” Brat said. “Team ball, right. Started off with a base bill, worked it made it better [in the] Senate. That’s what got us success so let’s copy what got us success.”
Meadows said that a vote on the Goodlatte bill would be a huge factor to get the Freedom Caucus for the funding bill, but it was a necessity.
“Obviously passing the Goodlatte bill would make a big difference for a lot of our guys but that’s not our request,” Meadows said. “If we could pass defence [funding] with just a small plus up in non-defence discretionary, we’d be in good shape.”
The House is expected to vote on the short-term funding bill on Thursday, it is not clear if there are enough votes for it to pass. If no funding bill passes by the end of Friday, the federal government will enter a partial shutdown.
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