Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Paul Ryan Thought He Had a Deal with the Freedom Caucus. He Was Wrong.

The House Freedom Caucus doesn't make deals. That's why they're called the Freedom Caucus, I guess.

Paul Ryan: I gave up power at Ways and Means for this shit? Yes, Paul, yes you did.

Who didn't see this coming?
Over beer, chips, soda and, according to one caucus member who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the private meeting, "all the normal kinds of bagged munchies that you’re not supposed to eat," Ryan hosted caucus members around a large conference table in his office to tell them that, if Republicans want to pass appropriations bills this year, they have to accept the budget number that leaders from both parties agreed to at the end of October.
"There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ll vote for that," caucus member Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told The Huffington Post after the meeting.
Politico adds:
But conservatives, led by members of the Freedom Caucus who sit on the Budget Committee, such as Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), want additional deficit reduction and are threatening to vote against the fiscal blueprint at its current levels. Members of the conservative caucus want to cut $30 billion from next year's budget. Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have said no so far to any such changes.
The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Ryan's home-state rag, drives the point home:
Members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, the group that forced Boehner out, say they can't support any upcoming budget that endorses last fall's bipartisan pact between GOP leaders and Obama that increased spending for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
It took many Democratic votes to pass last fall's budget deal, but any GOP budget effort this spring has to be a Republican-only exercise since it will call for sharp spending cuts opposed by Democrats. The Freedom Caucus is balking at supporting any budget that endorses that year's spending increases.
"I don't think there will be many votes for the Boehner budget in the Freedom Caucus," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.).
Failing to pass a budget could be a significant embarrassment for Ryan. He wants the House to finish its budget work quickly this year as a signal the GOP can govern and so Republicans can focus on churning out proposals underscoring the party's ideas on topics like national security, the economy and health care.
Ouch. Ryan took the speaker's gavel because he thought he could wield it in a way the former speaker, John Boehner, could not. For his sake, let's hope he's right.

Tangentially, I wonder what tack presidential hopeful Ted Cruz -- a mentor to the Freedom Caucus -- will take during a presidential election year. My suspicion is he'll be breathing fire and brimstone. What do you think?

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