House Freedom Caucus makes demands ahead of government funding vote

August 21, 2023

Far-right conservatives in the House Freedom caucus said Monday they’ll oppose any stopgap government funding bill that doesn’t meet certain demands, according to a draft press release.

Among their demands are measures related to the U.S.-Mexico border, and what they say is the “unprecedented weaponization” of the Department of Justice as well as “woke” Pentagon policies. 

The demands come one week after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) held a conference call with fellow House Republicans on plans to take up a “clean” short-term stopgap funding plan.

Congress must sign off on a federal budget by midnight September 30, as the new fiscal year begins October 1, or face at least a partial government shutdown.

“We refuse to support any such measure that continues Democrats’ bloated COVID-era spending and simultaneously fails to force the Biden Administration to follow the law and fulfill its most basic responsibilities,” the Freedom Caucus members said in their press release.

The GOP controls the House, but only by five votes, and so cannot afford to lose more than a handful of Republicans’ support on any legislation. There are roughly three dozen Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus.

With Congress currently out of session on August break, Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy (R-TX) told Axios, “If you think we’re going to come in and in three weeks, three partial weeks in September and get the appropriations bills done—that seems unlikely, given the extent to which there was a total failure in settings, spending levels where they needed to be set in order to get to 218” necessary votes in the House.

The Freedom Caucus is pushing to cut spending to a fiscal 2022 level of $1.47 trillion, which is $120 billion less than President Biden and McCarthy agreed to in their deal to raise the debt ceiling back in May.

Republicans are also seeking higher spending on defense, veterans benefits and border security which would likely mean cuts of up to 25% in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, science, commerce, water and energy, and healthcare, according to analysts.

Some centrist Republicans have come out against the Freedom Caucus’ hardline spending cuts, saying they ignore the fact that they won’t pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and that spending will end up at nearly the level to which Biden and McCarthy agreed, anyway.

“The reductions are so deep,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), a centrist. “They want to make everything a root canal.”

Other centrists note that the Freedom Caucus’ cuts target legislation that’s already been vetted by the 61-member House Appropriations Committee.

Committee Member David Joyce (R-OH) has insisted, “We’re not, willy-nilly, just trying to give money away. We’re trying to focus and prioritize.”

A total of 12 appropriations bills must pass in both the House and Senate before midnight, September 30 to fund the government. The House returns from break September 12.

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