Mark Meadows fears Congress is about to pass a 'Christmas tree of spending'

by Pete Kasperowicz | Feb 7, 2018, 8:06 AM

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Washington, February 7, 2018 | Ben Williamson (202-225-6401) | comments

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., warned Wednesday that Congress might be on the verge of passing a huge spending and debt ceiling deal, one that goes far beyond what members of his conservative group can support.

"I'm afraid that the numbers will get so high and the debt ceiling will get added and it will be a Christmas tree of spending, that a lot of votes will be bought," he said on MSNBC.

"So, it'll be quote a bipartisan deal, but you'll end up with 120 or 140 Democrats and maybe about the same on Republicans, sending this to the president's desk," Meadows added.

It's not entirely clear what Congress will soon pass, but lawmakers have said they are close to reaching a two-year spending agreement that boosts spending for both military and non-military programs. That could include a hike in the debt ceiling, which has to be raised somehow by March, and new spending on disaster aid and other items in order to win enough support for it.

The House passed a short-term spending bill on Tuesday to keep the government open past Thursday, but if the Senate can finalize the larger deal, it might pass that and send it over to the House.

Meadows said the House Freedom Caucus has lost some leverage in this fight because it decided to back the short-term bill in the House, which also funded the military for the rest of the fiscal year.

"We had to make a decision last night," he said. "We had an emergency meeting of the Freedom Caucus, really the plan that we had was to go ahead and fund defense and keep the line straight on non-defense."

"We knew by giving that vote that potentially we would use all our leverage over the next 48 hours," he added.

Meadows warned that Congress needs to tackle spending reform soon, which must include defense spending reforms.

"It is time that we make sure that the federal taxpayer's dollar is accounted for properly," he said.

But he also acknowledged that it's an issue that pits Republicans against each other.

"You're going to probably see a whole lot more fighting and really debating on that particular issue in the coming weeks," he said.

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