The House Freedom Caucus has announced it’s withholding support of the current Republican budget that is up for a committee vote on Wednesday. The HFC is pushing for doubling the $200 billion in budget cuts to mandatory spending that is the current proposed budget, and they want details of what the tax reform package includes.
The HFC withholding support from the budget has very little impact — their votes won’t keep it from passing committee — on government spending limits. The proposed budget is simply a tool for setting up a fast-track for reconciliation, thereby keeping Senate Democrats from filibustering it, and getting tax reform passed. Which is an issue that has become tantamount in light of the failure to effectively repeal and replace Obamacare.
Prominent HFC member Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) told The Hill,
“The only reason you need a budget is for reconciliation. So if that’s the only reason we’re doing it, we’d like to know what the savings will be like and what tax reform is going to look like,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus leader, told The Hill.
The Freedom Caucus, he added, felt burned by the last budget resolution, which laid out reconciliation instructions for repealing ObamaCare. The caucus, he said, gave its support to a general set of instructions, but disapproved of the way the process has moved forward since then.
“We’ve been down this road before. It’s like the expression: ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,’ ” he said.
Beyond wanting to double the current cuts from $200 billion to $400 billion, the Freedom Caucus wants to make sure that the budget is ultimately a tax cut and not simply shifting spending and staying revenue neutral, which is not what Republicans promised if they gained control of Congress and the White House.
Of course, there will be those who claim the HFC is just trying to hold up legislative progress (again). However, conservative members are simply keeping faith with the American people who voted them in based on promises of reigning in spending.
Congressional Republicans are on the hook for keeping the promises they ran on for seven years, as my colleague, Jay Caruso, wrote earlier. And they can expect little help from the President. Indeed, he’s more likely than not to sully the process than anything.
Whether Obamacare is successfully repealed and replaced down the road, Republicans look fractious and ineffective. Passing an anemic budget that effectually changes nothing for the long term fiscal future of the country was not part of the package.
Getting the wide range of Republicans to agree on a budget deal always requires negotiation, but the Freedom Caucus setting their markers early will hopefully result in a shift toward reduced government spending and taxes across the board.