House Freedom Caucus backs off demands for deep spending cuts
The House Freedom Caucus is no longer demanding as deep of spending cuts to domestic programs and said it would accept the $1.59 trillion, appearing to finally back government spending levels set by the debt deal between former House Speaker Kevin Mccarthy, R-calif., and President Joe Biden this year.
The group of hard-line Republicans had previously been pushing a top line of $1.47 trillion, far below the $1.59 trillion budget cap agreement struck between Mccarthy and Biden in June.
However, the House has not been able to pass bills at those lower spending levels. Bills funding the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor have failed to pass in the lower chamber.
“$1.59 is too expensive for many of us, but we realized that $1.47 is not going to happen,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, during a press conference Wednesday, along with several conservative Republican senators.
“No more gimmicks. Most of the House voted for it. Most of the Senate voted for it. That’s where we have to be. Don’t be adding stuff to it,” he said.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have attempted to spend more than the debt ceiling caps by adding $14 billion in spending and calling it “emergency” funding.
Bills funding Veterans Affairs and military construction, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development must be passed by Jan. 19, and the rest of the government funding must be complete by Feb. 2.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-LA., has vowed not to pass any more temporary spending extensions.
As lawmakers attempt to find a path forward for Biden’s $106 billion supplemental request, however, they are struggling to find consensus on U.S. border and immigration policies.
Republicans in both chambers want to see a crackdown on asylum at the U.s.-mexico border in exchange for their support of Biden’s request for $106 billion, which includes emergency funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, as well as funding to strengthen the United States’ immigration system. The White House’s supplemental request also includes $14 billion for border security.
However, Perry said Wednesday that he would not accept any effort to combine aid for the three countries, instead insisting that the three items be voted on separately.
“It doesn’t matter what we pass here, in the way of legislation, even if it gets a signature, if we don’t have a president and administration willing to enforce the law, and that’s what we have right now,” Perry said. “So we need to see definable, verifiable, certifiable believable metrics that show it’s actually secure.”
Perry’s pledge as the leader of the Freedom Caucus comes after the House passed a separate multibillion-dollar Israel aid bill this month that Biden threatened to veto and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
The bill passed in the House 226196, with 12 Democrats voting for the bill to help push it across the finish line. Only two Republicans voted against it.
While aid to Israel is something both parties strongly agree with, Democratic support for the legislation broke down after Johnson added a provision in the bill that would cut $14.3 billion in funding from the IRS to offset the cost of the aid to Israel, prompting Democratic leaders to encourage party members to vote against it.
If Republicans are unable to strike a deal on full-year appropriations by Feb. 2, Johnson told Senate Republicans that the House will pass a fullyear stopgap bill with programs frozen at current levels during a closed meeting on Wednesday. Under the terms of the debt ceiling law, that could trigger a 1% across-the-board cut to defense and nondefense funding.
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The Gazette, Colorado Springs