House GOP prepares for upcoming fiscal arguments
Fights could lead to government shutdown
House conservatives say they want to see money for President Trump’s border wall, a crack down on sanctuary cities and more cash for the Pentagon all tucked into an emergency spending bill Congress must pass later this month.
But they are downplaying the chance that those fights result in a government shutdown, saying even if they don’t win all the battles, there are enough other must-pass bills later this year to stick them on.
Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the House Freedom Caucus, said he and his colleagues will try to make big dents in service of Mr. Trump’s priorities, but they have less faith that the Senate will back them up.
“I think you will see funding in it for the wall,” Mr. Meadows said Thursday at an event sponsored by Politico. “I think you will see funding in there for better enforcement on ‘sanctuary’ cities and I think you will see a plus-up on military. So specifically I think that is what you will see. I think most people will vote for that. It will go the Senate, it will be stripped out and then we will have a hard decision to be made in four days.”
The debate will kick off the last week this month, when Congress returns from a two-week spring break. They’ll have just five days to pass a new set of spending bills before an April 28 deadline, when existing government funding runs out.
They hope to pass a bill that will fill out funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, or at the very least pass another short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the government running at current funding levels.
But that could be a heavy lift thanks to ideological divisions within the GOP over spending priorities and tactics.
Mr. Trump wants to see an additional $30 billion in military spending and $3 billion for immigration enforcement, including $1 billion to get his border wall under way.
Senate Republicans have said the wall funding will have to wait until after the April 28 deadline, while House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said it is premature to speculate.
For their part Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster any bill that includes funding for the wall, raising the threat of a government shutdown.
But that leaves the Senate on a collision course with House conservatives, who just last month flexed their muscles by sinking the health care bill that Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan tried to push through Congress.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, said their 30-plus members don’t want a shutdown, but they do want to deliver on their promises to do away with Obamacare, secure the border and overhaul the tax code.
He said this month’s fight over spending offers a chance to focus on those priorities.
“All those things are coming and we need to make sure we deliver on every single one of them,” Mr. Jordan said. “Strategically and tactically how that plays out, we will see, but I think the [spending debate] is a good place to focus on securing the border.”
Mr. Meadows, though, said even if conservatives don’t win those fights now, there are other chances looming, including during debates over next year’s spending bills, an expected debate over Mr. Trump’s plans for infrastructure, and a debt limit battle due near the end of the year.
“The reason I don’t believe there will be a shutdown is because of the other leverage points,” Mr. Meadows said. “I think those other leverage points allows the shutdown talk to be minimized here in a couple of weeks.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, said he and his colleagues will try to make big dents in service of President Trump’s top priorities.