WASHINGTON — House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said members of the conservative group wouldn’t rule out voting for a short-term spending bill that included the Alexander-Murray health care fix if defense funding is passed separately from nondefense discretionary spending.
“Let me just tell you, if Alexander-Murray would break the defense and nondefense wall, that might be a price many of us are willing to pay,” he told reporters following a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio Wednesday.
Conservatives have been reluctant to support Alexander-Murray — which aims to stabilize Obamacare for the short-term by funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies for two years while providing more flexibility to the states — arguing taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to bail out insurance companies.
GOP lawmakers continue to work on an agreement to keep the government funded that can pass the Senate with 60 votes while satisfying conservatives. Republican leadership is currently looking to pass a two-week stopgap measure by Dec. 8 to provide more time for negotiations for a long-term spending bill.
The House Freedom Caucus is pushing for defense appropriations — which would likely be paired with disaster relief or children’s health insurance funding — to be passed in a separate measure than the Dec. 22 spending bill in an attempt to force Democrats to agree higher defense funding without raising spending in other areas.
“I think the biggest thing or for some of our Freedom Caucus guys and some of the honestly some of our conference is breaking this wall that holds our military hostage,” Meadows told reporters following a meeting with McCarthy. “And so much of what we’ve been talking about is how to break out that defense spending from the nondefense discretionary.”
Meadows said conversations with leadership and the upper chamber have largely been productive, but they want to ensure the military is funded and deficit spending doesn’t get out of control.
“I mean this is not a new theme that comes up — they know that Republicans want to fund the military, Democrats know that,” he continued. “And so what they do is they hold that hostage and trying to get things that are not in the best interest of the American taxpayer and so it is truly trying to have a real plan to break that.”