WASHINGTON – A group of ultraconservative House Republicans abandoned their demands on Friday to repeal President Joe Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act and tackle the debt ceiling, pushing for the latest government funding deal.
The plan is highly unlikely to become law, and it represents a major challenge facing GOP Chairman Kevin McCarthy: unifying a convention divided over strategy in the face of a looming deadline to avert an economically catastrophic default. .
The Freedom Caucus, chaired by Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA, proposed eliminating Biden’s $400 billion in student loan relief, canceling unspent Covid-19 funds, cutting climate change funding and under inflation reduction $80 billion for additional IRS enforcement and capping discretionary spending for a decade at fiscal year 2022 levels.
Perry estimates that would save about $3 trillion over a decade. The group said in a one-page plan that it would “consider voting on enactment of legislation to increase the loan limit” that would achieve the above, along with passage of regulation bills such as the REINS Act and adding work requirements for welfare. .
But Republicans have given no indication that they will write their own bill representing the Freedom Caucus vision, raising questions about whether their effort will get off the ground. Perry said the ideas in the various bills have already been unveiled.
The Freedom Caucus plan represents the views of the most right-wing members of the House. It is unclear whether McCarthy would support the plan, let alone find the votes to pass it under a low Republican majority. And if he does, it will reach the Democratic-led Senate and be dead under Biden’s veto pen.
The Treasury Department has said Congress has until June 5 to avoid a debt default that would have devastating consequences for the US economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the deadline to be between July and September.
Asked about the likelihood of McCarthy getting support to pass the Freedom Caucus plan, Perry said: “Look, that’s their job. Not mine.”
Perry did not say how much Congress should raise the debt ceiling if it were to adopt his plan: “I don’t know what it should be. Here again, I’m not one to request an increase in the debt ceiling.” Am.” House Republicans are divided about the way forward. Some want the party leadership to draw up a GOP debt limit plan and pass it through the House. Among them are Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C. who vowed “we’re going to get” the 218 votes to pass a conservative plan. But others want to pre-negotiate a bill with Democrats, who have called for an increase in the “clean” debt limit without conditions.
“This is extreme on steroids. It will undercut and burn our economy,” Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-PA, ranking member of the budget committee, said of the Freedom Caucus proposal. “It shows how remarkable and extreme their agenda is.”
White House spokesman Andrew Bates hit back at the Freedom Caucus on Friday, Saying that the House GOP’s only budget proposal would eliminate manufacturing jobs enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act and increase the deficit “by helping the super wealthy and large corporations break the law and cheat on their taxes.”
On Wednesday, when McCarthy was asked if that was his plan, he gave no indication that he intended to write or pass the GOP debt limit bill. “I expect a debt ceiling increase that replaces the funding we get through the House and Senate,” he said, indicating he wanted Democrats on board before the vote.
“You have to have the president on board,” he said. “You have to have the Senate. You have to have everybody.
Perry acknowledged that McCarthy has a difficult task.
“They have to try and navigate what the president wants,” Perry said. “Obviously, the president’s marker is in the stratosphere. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to negotiate. But if he, if the chairman wants me to have a conversation with the president, I’d be happy to do that. But he Going to find out. And then we’ll determine whether it’s good or bad.”
Unveiling the plan at a news conference on Friday, Perry dismissed the possibility that McCarthy would strike a deal with Democrats that abandons the Freedom Caucus.
He told reporters with a laugh, “Speaker McCarthy is not going to compromise with the Democrats.”
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., a Freedom Caucus member who attended the press conference, said: “He has a spine.”
After the press conference, Perry said there had been no talk of ousting McCarthy if he pushed forward an explicit debt ceiling increase that was free of policy conditions such as spending cuts.
“We are not talking about an offer to vacate right now,” he said.