Freedom Caucus Sounds Off on Leadership Over Budget Deal

‘Our leadership caved,’ Rep. Meadows says

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio., voted “no” on the two-year spending package signed into law last Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Freedom Caucus is not happy with GOP leadership after Democrats and Republicans struck a deal last week to fund the government for two years and avoid another shutdown until at least March 23.

The package President Donald Trump signed Friday morning raises the debt limit, provides an additional $300 billion for defense and domestic programs over two years, and allocates relief dollars for natural disaster victims.

Most Freedom Caucus members are furious over what they consider wasteful spending and a betrayal of the GOP’s hard-line opposition to debt increases.

“Our leadership caved. The swamp won,” Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the group’s chairman, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The American taxpayer lost.”

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The 36-member Freedom Caucus did have defectors of its own. Roughly nine voted in support of the package. (The Freedom Caucus does not publish its membership roster, so it’s difficult to determine an exact count, although most members of the group are known.)

For messaging purposes, they kept their crosshairs fixed squarely on leadership’s back.

“Instead of standing firm, our leadership said, ‘No, no, no, let’s do what Washington always does. Let’s just spend more on everything. Let’s just grow government, give into the Democrats instead of fighting and [standing] firm,’” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They gave into the Democrats and we got this boondoggle.”

A persistent thorn in House Republicans’ side is the 60-vote tradition in the Senate intended to curb more extreme bills when one party controls both chambers of Congress and to attract some bipartisan buy-in. The rule has stalled a number of conservative bills that have passed in the House, where only a simple majority is needed.

Freedom Caucus members and other House conservatives have decried the rule as Republicans struggle to enact a broad legislative agenda, even with a red White House and control of both congressional chambers.

“Last time I checked, there’s more Republicans in the Senate than there are Democrats,” Jordan said, calling for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to spike the long-standing 60-vote rule.

Meadows echoed that sentiment.

“At some point, we’re going to have to say, ‘Mitch McConnell, enough is enough. Fifty-one votes on anything that is of national security interest. It is time that we change this.’” he said. “The American people ... could care less about their traditions of the Senate. They do care about their pocketbook. And what we’ve done is we’ve actually taken money from them to grow the size of government by almost 13 percent.”

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