The conservative House Freedom Caucus introduced on Friday a list of demands to aggressively rein in government spending, saying the group needed its demands met before it would be willing to raise the national debt ceiling and prevent a potential default.
The goal is to “shrink Washington and grow America,” caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said during a press conference introducing the group’s positions.
“This current debt crisis has been created solely by reckless Democrat policies and out of control spending. However, America will not default on our debts unless President Biden chooses to do so,” Perry said. “To ensure America does not default on our debts, the House Freedom Caucus is offering a responsible solution to this self-imposed crisis.”
The caucus handed out at the press conference a one-page list of legislative items it wanted passed before it would “consider” agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned could be reached as early as June.
The demands include:
- Ending Biden’s “$400 billion student loan bailout”
- Rescinding unspent funds allocated toward COVID-19
- Rescinding the already-approved $80 billion to expand the IRS
- Rescinding the “billions of wasteful climate change spending” approved through the “Inflation Reduction Act”
- Capping discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels for the next ten years, allowing for one percent annual growth
The caucus noted it will protect Social Security and Medicare benefits and keep defense spending at current levels.
It also listed a number of policy measures that it contended would grow the economy, such as restoring certain work requirements for welfare programs and ending federal regulations and subsidies related to domestic energy production.
Shrink Washington. Grow America. pic.twitter.com/vhteHNpNFS
— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) March 10, 2023
“This is our plan,” Perry said. “If somebody else wants to bring something else, we’re willing to look at it, but I will tell you, the plan that President Biden showed to the American people? That is not happening.”
Biden introduced his administration’s budget proposal Thursday, which included tax hikes and spending increases, which House Republicans have already signaled they will reject.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) emphasized that point on Friday, saying, “To President Biden, your budget is dead on arrival.”
By laying out its spending restrictions, the caucus, which makes up roughly 20 percent of the Republican conference, is wielding its power early on in the debt ceiling fight while the GOP maintains a slim majority of control in the chamber.
At this stage, the caucus appears united in its intentions to vote together on any spending and debt limit measures, and Perry observed that leadership, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has not shown opposition to the caucus’s priorities.
“McCarthy won’t negotiate with Democrats,” Perry also said when asked if that were a possibility.
A new Freedom Caucus member present at the press conference, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), added, “He has a backbone.”
Biden responded Friday afternoon to the caucus’s proposals, saying, according to CNN, “We just have a very different value set.”