- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Facing another funding deadline next week, congressional Republican leaders expressed confidence Thursday that there will be not another government shutdown and that Congress will be able to increase the country’s borrowing limit after a fresh warning from its scorekeeper.

Sen. John Thune, the Senate’s No. 3-ranking Republican, predicted that the government would not shut down next week, and both he and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the debt ceiling will be raised.

“I think all of this really points to the importance of fixing this budget process, and that is a priority for us,” said Ms. McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican.

The two lawmakers, the GOP conference chairs in their respective chambers, spoke as congressional Republicans kicked off the second day of their annual policy retreat, held this year at the Greenbrier resort here.

Government funding is slated to run out after Feb. 8, and lawmakers have to pass a new spending bill when they return to Washington, D.C., or face the prospect of a second partial shutdown in two months.

The Congressional Budget Office also warned on Wednesday that Congress will likely have to act by mid-March to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, or face the prospect of potentially breaching the debt ceiling.

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, likewise said he doesn’t think there will be a shutdown, but said conservatives are prepared to oppose another stopgap funding plan if they can’t get key commitments from leadership.

Conservatives have been pushing for a vote on an immigration bill crafted by House Republicans, as well as a spending package that would fully fund the military for the rest of the fiscal year.

“If we have a commitment on what we’re going to on immigration, that moves things along,” said Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican. “If we have a commitment on what we’re going to do on our military men and women, that moves it along.”

He also said he’s spoken recently with both White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the debt ceiling and “on how we can effectively make some real reforms in that area.”

“Based on those initial conversations, a number of Freedom Caucus members could potentially support those efforts,” Mr. Meadows said.

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