Sen. Ted Cruz again met with a small group of House Republicans late Tuesday night, this time to discuss over pizza a conservative strategy on the continuing resolution.
While many of the Cruz meetings have seemed to lack a specific agenda or resolution, members trickled out of Tuesday's nearly two-hour meeting repeating a similar refrain: We want a new expiration date on the CR.
Earlier in the evening, the House GOP leadership unveiled a bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11. And the early review from conservatives attending Cruz's meeting in the Texas Republican's office was that Dec. 11 is too soon.
Instead, members came out of the meeting saying they wanted the CR to fund the government through March 1.
Pushing the next big spending showdown into March, members of the 'Cruz Caucus' said, would give the new 114th Congress, which could include a Republican-controlled Senate, an opportunity to tackle government funding.
A Dec. 11 expiration means Congress will still have to address an omnibus spending package in the lame duck, when, regardless of the election results, Harry Reid of Nevada will still be Senate majority leader. Another issue members discussed at length was the Export-Import Bank. While many of the members voiced opposition to the credit agency, some said they understood the strategy of eventually decoupling Ex-Im from a spending bill, which the proposed CR does by extending the bank to June 30.
Even Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said the June 30 date "may be a good thing."
Other lawmakers were reluctant to see the bank, which has been criticized by fiscal hawks as little more than corporate welfare, get a new nine-month-long lifeline.
Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said she'd like to see a March 1 date for the CR, for the Export-Import Bank, "for everything, the whole ball of wax."
While that would realign Ex-Im with a must-pass spending bill, Blackburn said she has concerns about extending the bank through next summer.
Still, the Ex-Im extension may not turn out to be the main issue for conservatives.
Asked whether he had a problem with the June 30 expiration date, Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said "the problem is with the December 11 thing."
"Why would we want to go into a lame-duck session?" Huelskamp asked. "And I think we ought to do it through March 1."
Asked whether conservatives would band together to vote against a CR that only funded the government into December, Huelskamp said there was "a lot a talk about that."
Huelskamp joked that much of the discussion centered around "the fact that we ran out of pizza."
Asked what kind of pizza it was, Huelskamp wasn't sure.
"Too big of crust, that's all I know," he said.
Thomas Massie confirmed that it was We, The Pizza.
Members meeting with Cruz included: Gohmert, Blackburn, Huelskamp of Kansas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Randy Weber of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
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