House Freedom Caucus (HFC) Chairman Mark Meadows refuted accusations the powerful conservative group is moving the goal posts on budget negotiations Thursday.
Sources close to the budget process have expressed frustrations with the HFC, alleging the group’s recent assertion members won’t vote for the 2018 budget proposal — which includes reconciliation instructions for tax reform — until they receive additional details on GOP tax writers’ plan for tax reform is stalling the party’s ability to accomplish top priorities. HFC members maintain they have been consistent in their requests, arguing they have long sought substantial federal spending reductions and assurance from leadership language on border adjustment won’t be included in House Republicans’ final tax reform legislation.
The HFC’s call for lawmakers to slash mandatory spending levels by more than $200 billion has been met with resistance from moderate members of the conference, which critics have partially attributed to the reason for the impasse.
“We’ve never agreed to a mandatory spending number, and that’s really been where we’ve tried to be very articulate and very careful to say ‘we’ve agreed to this,’ but only if we can come to an agreement on the mandatory spending cuts,” Meadows told reporters Thursday.
The North Carolina Republican said he has been working closely with House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black in hopes of being able to reach a consensus on the matter.
“I would just say anytime you find Chairman Black and I together, you will find that the answer is one and the same — no goal posts have been moved,” he said. “I’ll be the first to say, she is working so unbelievably hard to get there that if anybody wants to get there for her it’s me because I’ve seen how hard she’s been willing to work.”
Meadows said he met with GOP leadership Thursday to discuss the specifics of the tax plan, but still lacks the details needed to sell him on the bill.
“We’ve had conversations with the speaker — a couple of conversations today with the speaker — and we’re just trying to get some clarity,” he said, adding they are working on trying to give more specificity on what they would like to see. “The good news is it does sound like they’re going to really include welfare reform. That’s my understanding, that tomorrow there will be some clarity on welfare reform.”
The House Budget Committee is looking to mark up the measure next week.
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