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House Freedom Caucus Not Calling on Paul Ryan to Stop Debt Deal

In an in-depth sit-down with Breitbart News, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan said that his group would not be calling on House Speaker candidate Paul Ryan to delay the debt limit deal until a better one can be negotiated. If such a demand were made, Boehner would likely have to pull the deal.

The interview took place just a few hours prior to Ryan’s declaration that he would formally-endorse John Boehner and Barack Obama’s proposed legislation to void federal spending limits and increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion.

Jordan described the deal as “terrible.”

Breitbart News asked Jordan if their group would, therefore, push Ryan to help them stop the “terrible” deal.

As presumptive Speaker, Ryan would be able to ask Boehner to pass a short-term bill instead, and give members of the conference a chance to put their principles into a new package. If the current deal is ratified, it will have the effect of locking-in higher spending for the next two years, while removing entirely the pressure-point of the debt ceiling as a must-pass vehicle for reform.

“We would have preferred that,” Jordan replied. “We thought that was going to happen. We thought, the way things were moving, we thought it was going to be some type of debt ceiling package put together by the current leadership, current Speaker. But that the spending… package was going to be left for new leadership.”

However, Jordan reiterated that they were not using their leverage to get Ryan to delay the likely irreversible two-year deal.

Jordan said:

Well, he [Ryan] spoke out against the process, which we think is helpful. Again, we think what this shows here— what’s been put together in the last two days— that we just found out about 36 hours ago is everything that’s wrong with the way things have been done for too long around this place. And that’s why we hope going forward there’s a whole different approach. Paul has pledged that there will be. We’d have preferred obviously that some of this would have been left for him to address because we thought we would get a better deal. We’ll see what the vote is today.

Even though the House Freedom Caucus could have a chance to kill the bill by demanding it be delayed until a new Speaker is elected, Jordan said they would not play that card:

We haven’t called to delay. We’ve just said that this is a terrible process and we’re opposed to it. There will be a statement coming out today from the Freedom Caucus… I think you’ll see every single member [of the Freedom Caucus] vote against this package.

Although Ryan “pledged” to Jordan that there would be a different approach under his Speakership, shortly after this interview Ryan issued a statement announcing that he will support the deal.

Earlier this week, fellow House Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows called on all candidates for Speaker to oppose the bill. “I call on all candidates running for Speaker of the House to oppose this legislation and go on record showing they do not support this approach to governing,” Meadows said.

Meadows tweeted: “Anyone who supports the #budgetdeal is complicit in supporting ‘the way things are’ in Washington. I strongly oppose.”

It is unclear, at this point, whether any members of the House Freedom Caucus members will abandon their support for Ryan as a result of Ryan’s embrace of the deal. Ryan’s support for the deal is probably not a surprise to many. As Sen. Jeff Sessions said in his statement opposing the deal:

It appears this deal is built on the same principles as the Ryan-Murray budget deal from 2013.  It exchanges instant increases in federal spending for distant savings, as much two decades down the road, that are likely to never materialize.

Ryan’s endorsement of the deal may add to the perception among many conservatives that he’s the same as Boehner on all fiscal matters while substantially more extreme than Boehner, McCarthy, or Cantor on immigration. Ryan worked with Luis Gutierrez, and House Freedom Caucus Founder Mick Mulvaney, to push through Senator Marco Rubio’s amnesty agenda in 2014 and nearly succeeded. Back in the 90’s, Ryan helped derail Lamar Smith’s push for immigration curbs. NumbersUSA President Roy Beck estimates that Ryan’s effort added 10 million more immigrants to the country than there otherwise would have been—or 55 times the number of Jim Jordan-voters in Ohio’s fourth Congressional district.

Conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, fear that, once confirmed as Speaker, Ryan will team up with pro-amnesty interest groups in 2017 to push through an open borders immigration bill.

At the same time, while more than 9 in 10 GOP voters—according to Pew—want less immigration than we currently have, Ryan is one of the most outspoken advocates for more immigration, even saying that the job of a lawmaker is to put oneself in the shoes of a foreign national residing outside of the United States and then work to find legislative solutions that will improve the life of that foreign citizen.

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