House GOP pre­pares for up­com­ing fis­cal ar­gu­ments

Fights could lead to gov­ern­ment shut­down

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

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.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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