Haley Byrd/Independent Journal Review
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters on Monday night that Republicans don't have enough votes to pass a budget resolution in the House, a necessary first step for their tax reform plans.
“I can tell you with 100 percent confidence — they don’t have the votes to pass it on the House floor,” Meadows said.
Meadows, who leads a group of about three dozen hardline conservative lawmakers, said the Freedom Caucus doesn't plan to take an official position against the budget because the resolution doesn't currently have enough support to even warrant one.
“There’s not the votes to pass it on the House floor, so it doesn’t really matter,” Meadows said. He added that Republican leaders wouldn't bring the budget resolution to the floor for a vote “unless they want it to fail.”
Meadows and his conservative colleagues have called for steeper cuts to mandatory spending — broadly asking for almost double the amount Budget Committee Chair Diane Black (R-Tenn.) settled on, which is $200 billion.
Conservative lawmakers, who oppose key aspects of House Speaker Paul Ryan's tax reform plan, like the controversial border adjustment tax — have also tied the budget to demands for assurances on tax reform.
Those Freedom Caucus members are insisting on getting more specific details from the leadership on the GOP agenda before supporting a budget resolution that would move tax reform forward now following a collective feeling that the leadership blindsided them in the run-up to the vote on the American Health Care Act in March, according to Virginia Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.).
And so, Meadows said, “We need clarity on tax reform.” He added, “We need clarity on the mandatory cuts we’re going to get serious about. Without those two, I don't know if there’s any reason to pass a budget, because we’re already doing appropriations.”
Lawmakers have made progress on appropriations, though, and some are discussing passing an omnibus spending bill before they leave for a month-long recess in August.
Still, ongoing budget disagreements present a challenge for GOP leaders attempting to salvage the rest of their stalling agenda with tax reform plans later this year.
Budget Committee members will hold a markup of the budget on Wednesday, but it's possible it will be rescheduled once again if Republicans are unable to garner enough support for their plan among the conference.