The vote on the motion to conference on the tax bill was more dramatic than House Republican leadership anticipated Monday evening after a sizable number of House Freedom Caucus (HFC) members opted to withhold their votes as leverage to push back the deadline of the upcoming continuing resolution (CR).
Lawmakers face a Dec. 8 deadline to pass a CR if they want to keep the government open. GOP leadership was looking move forward on a two-week measure, but conservatives argued the timeline didn’t give members ample time to negotiate a long-term spending bill while lawmakers grapple with other time-sensitive priorities.
Following an animated conversation between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and HFC Chairman Mark Meadows on the House floor, the majority of the HFC members opted to flip their votes on the motion after receiving assurances the deadline for the CR would be extended.
Meadows said while they didn’t get an “iron-clad commitment” the CR would run through Dec. 30, he felt good about the talks.
“We took an official position that we’re not in favor of a short-term two-week CR, continuing resolution, from a funding aspect,” he told reporters after the vote. “But you know it’s all about getting the tax bill right but making sure that we get it done, and I think there is some anxiousness on whether we can get it done and right.”
McCarthy confirmed leadership is open to the Dec. 30 date.
“We said we leave it up to conference, we’re having a conference tomorrow, the conference can decide,” he told reporters following the vote. “I said I have no problem between the 22nd and 30th of when people want it — it’s only a week different.”
McCarthy said the continuing resolution doesn’t currently have the support of Democrats, meaning GOP leadership is going to need the majority of their conference to get behind the measure for it to pass.
“Democrats want a shutdown,” he said. “I think it’s odd that the Democrats want to shut the government down over it — it’s an odd time of year for them to want to do it.”
While the CR lacks bipartisan support, the California Republican said he’s not concerned the Freedom Caucus will derail the spending bill over the length of the CR.
“No — we’ll be fine,” he said.