The new chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is promising one of the most consequential starts to a presidential administration in modern history, as Republican stand poised to run Congress and the White House.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., made headlines in the last Congress for filing the resolution that led to the resignation of former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in 2015. Now he says House conservatives are ready to make significant contributions on a wide range of issues.
“It’s really pushing that conservative, solution-oriented agenda so that the Senate take notice and understands that watered-down, business as usual kid of decisions aren’t going to happen,” said Meadows.
“Whether it’s on securing our border, whether it’s looking at the Syrian refugee issue, whether it’s pushing back against an anti-Israel UN, they’re going to get the opportunity to take votes and make the important decisions that are important to your listeners that are our constituents as well,” said Meadows.
And despite previous clashes with GOP leaders over spending and who sits in the speaker’s chair, Meadows is confident that leaders are listening to conservatives on key issues.
“I have seen a real willingness on behalf of this leadership to really consider those things in earnest. We know we’re not going to win every battle but also know that the debate will be a fair debate. Hopefully the results will represent the will of the vast majority of the American people,” said Meadows.
The issue getting the most attention leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration is the dismantling of the Obama health care law. Meadows says the House Freedom Caucus will soon advocate voting for replacement legislation at the same time they push for repeal.
“I believe we’ll start to coalesce around Sen. Rand Paul’s idea of having a replacement bill voted on the same day we vote on repeal. I think it’s important for the American people to understand that there are and have been replacement plans out there. It’s important to vote on that,” said Meadows, who says the votes could come as early as late February or early March.
“I think it will pass the House, may fail in the Senate and probably would fail in the Senate,” said Meadows.
That said, Meadows says a lot of Obamacare can be repealed through reconciliation instructions, but not all of it can be scrapped that way. But he says any tax provisions and the mandates can get the boot from a simple majority in the Senate.
Meadows also made headlines last month for offering the Trump transition team a book of 200 federal regulations that Trump could repeal upon taking office. He says the list is quickly approaching 300 regulations and the response from Trump’s team has been very encouraging.
“I’ve been led to believe many of those could be repealed on the very day of the inauguration after the parade. President Trump will then go in and sign those executive orders and treat that as day one of his new presidency,” said Meadows, who believes the American people will be grateful for a government looking for ways to make their lives easier.
Meadows suspects there may be some battles among Republicans over spending down the line, but probably not until the appropriations process plays out in autumn.
He is also pushing back against reports that House conservatives will be less demanding of a Republican president. Reports in December quoted House Freedom Caucus members as saying they might be willing to allow new spending that is only 50 percent paid for in other spending reductions. Meadows insists nothing has changed.
“We believe that any additional dollar of spending must be offset. We don’t have a taxing problem. We don’t even have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem, so if we want to find money for other areas, we need to reallocate that from existing revenue streams,” said Meadows.
“We cannot put the burden on our grandchildren or our children’s future. We’ve got to take the hard position now, the difficult choices now to make sure that we’re fiscally responsible. The Freedom Caucus is committed to making sure that we do that,” said Meadows.