The House Freedom Caucus released its list of demands that if met would sway its Republican members to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling.
The House Freedom Caucus released its list of demands on Friday that if met would sway its Republican members to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling.
The comprehensive list of spending cuts and policy changes was introduced by members of the far-right caucus at a press conference Friday, after which the head of the group, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), blasted President Biden for misrepresenting its proposal.
The Freedom Caucus calls for steep cuts to current spending that would be accomplished by scrapping the Biden administration’s $400 billion student loan debt relief plan, rescinding all unspent COVID-19 funds and repealing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that earmark $80 billion for the Internal Revenue Service and billions of dollars for combating climate change.
The hard-line group of lawmakers, who threatened to derail House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) speakership election in January, also demanded that all future discretionary spending be capped at fiscal 2022 levels for 10 years, allowing for 1% growth per year.
The proposed cap would cut current levels of spending by $131 billion and save taxpayers about $3 trillion over the long term, according to the Freedom Caucus.
The group argues that the cuts would target “the wasteful, woke, and weaponized federal bureaucracy” but keep defense spending at current levels and protect Social Security and Medicare benefits.
“This enables Congress to use the appropriations process to address the many abuses and disasters caused by the Biden Administration, such as the chaos on the southern border, COVID vaccine mandates and discrimination policies, and the unconstitutional ‘pistol brace’ ATF rule,” the Freedom Caucus said in a press release announcing their proposal.
The group also listed reimplementing “Clinton-era work requirements on welfare programs,” enacting the REINS Act — a bill that would broaden congressional input on agency regulations — and cutting domestic energy production regulations as some of its favored policy change proposals.
Biden, who on Thursday released his own budget proposal that requests $6.8 trillion and would raise the national debt to nearly $51 trillion by 2033, slammed the Freedom Caucus’ demands.
“Members of the House Freedom Caucus would consider voting to raise the debt ceiling contingent upon the enactment of legislation,” Biden said at the White House Friday. “Do you know what the essence of the enactment of that legislation is? Cut all spending other than defense by 25%.”
“Twenty-five percent across the board. That means cops, firefighters. It means healthcare. That’s just what they call discretionary spending,” he argued.
“And what kind of surprised me, they want to make sure we don’t have enough IRS agents.”
Chairman Perry lashed out at the 80-year-old president after his criticism, accusing Biden of waging a campaign of “smear-and-fear” against the caucus.
“I didn’t realize the president was now going on his comedy tour, because yesterday was the joke of his budget, and we thought that was as non-serious as anything,” Perry told the Hill on Friday.
“For him to mention things like firefighters, police officers and health care – obviously, either he didn’t watch the press conference, he can’t read, or someone is, you know, got their hand up his back and they’re speaking for him, because those are just abject lies,” Perry added.
“It’s the same old, you know, smear-and-fear campaign by the Biden administration.”
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Treasury Department will exhaust its emergency measures to prevent a debt default sometime this summer, between July and September if Congress doesn’t raise the country’s $31.4 trillion debt limit before then.