House Freedom Caucus Slams the Debt Ceiling Deal

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

On Tuesday, the House Freedom Caucus, led by Chairman Scott Perry, held a press conference slamming the debt ceiling deal and vowing to block it. Members of the caucus called on “all Republicans” to oppose the deal while Perry called members in both chambers of Congress to “hold the line for the bill that we’ve passed.” Last month, House Republicans passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, while Democrats declared it “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

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Rep. Byron Donalds described the McCarthy-Biden deal as par for the course in DC, saying:

Washington is doing it again. While you were celebrating Memorial Day… this town is cutting a crap deal that is going to put you in debt. Washington is lying, again. This bill has no cap in raising the debt, just a date in the future.

During the press conference, the debt ceiling deal was described as “insanity,” “a shell game,” and a “blank check to the Biden administration.”

Rep. Andy Biggs said that the deal was designed to “fool you”:

There won’t be a cap for 19 months of the Biden administration. And the Biden administration is probably the most profligate administration we’ve seen, and that’s saying something. Four trillion dollars in new debt, I forecast for you now it’s gonna be closer to five trillion by the time we get there.

 

 

Rep. Donalds said he didn’t think the deal was “cool,” at all:

So, who here thinks its cool to cut 12 billion dollars in exchange for four trillion? I dont think it’s cool at all. This bill actually keeps the Biden baseline intact for the federal agencies. The Republicans in Congress have been saying for months that we need to get back to pre-COVID spending levels; this bill cannonizes post-COVID spending levels brought to us by Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Rep. Bob Good said the unlimited spending makes a true default more likely, noting the spending:

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 …makes true default more likely in the future, with three to four trillion increase over the next year and a half.

Rep. Lauren Boebert called the deal “fake news,” saying:

Tomorrow’s bill is a bunch of fake news and fake talking points that will do nothing  to rein in out of control federal spending. Tomorrow’s bill fails to return federal spending at pre-COVID pandemic levels and instead normalizes federal spending at the six trillion dollar level as opposed to the previous four trillion dollar level.

Boebert added that the debt ceiling deal passed in the House last month saved taxpayers $4.8 trillion and included “real reforms.”

Promises Made, Promises Scrapped

House Freedom Caucus members expressed that the bill was an affront to promises made to the American public, like defunding the hiring of new IRS agents, and the concessions they achieved during the contested House Speaker vote in January.

Biggs noted that the bill that was passed out of the House last month made good on the promises to not amass IRS agents to harass the American working class, saying:

No new agents to hassle Americans. The McCarthy-Biden proposal is to prevent hiring of the agents next year, not permanently. Republicans will have to fight the hiring of agents a year from now. That doesn’t mean they can’t hire agents this year.

Rep. Andrew Clyde said:

The bill text doesn’t lie. We promised the American people in the very first bill to repeal the IRS increase; the money is still available, right now.

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Speakers from the caucus focused on how the deal would continue the Green New Deal “boondoggle,” that nothing was included to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, and that the “pay-go” provisions can easily be waived by the Biden administration.

Biggs called the administrative pay-go provisions, “crazy,” while noting that they sunset in a year:

…crazy is that Director of OMB can waive the pay-go provisions whenever and for whatever reason. You know what, there’s a reason that the Biden administration has no concern over this provision at all — they control the OMB and the OMB Director. And that unicorn, the admin pay-go ,is where most of the McCarthy-Biden savings of 1.2 trillion dollars is supposedly coming from. And since that is ephemeral at best, the McCarthy-Biden savings totally evaporates.

McCarthy Critiques

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership was criticized and called into question. Boebert is asking for amendments, saying that in the Speaker election in January, they:

…fought extensively to empower each member of Congress to have a say, to have influence on legislation. Not unilaterally give our authority over to the Speaker to negotiate a bad deal.

Rep Dan Bishop said:

McCarthy said Democrats didn’t get anything in this bill. Who do you think wanted the undefined debt ceiling?

Chairman Perry said:

The Speaker himself has said on numerous occasions “Now is the time to act.” We have the time to act and this deal fails, fails completely, and that’s why these members and others will be absolutely opposed to the deal and we will do everything in our power to stop it and end it now.

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Chip Roy expressed that Americans were promised a change in Washington and that the deal was causing a divide in the previously unified Republican conference, saying:

My friends here who have been for a long time making clear to the American people its time for things to change in Washington. Now, we’ve been saying that for a long time and finally in January we did something about it and we forced a change and the American people responded., and for five months, that change was being seen, because we were a unified Republican Party standing up for the things we actually run on.

Unfortunately, last week there was a breach.. there was a breach in the structure that we agreed to put in place, to make sure that we were representing the American people through this, heretofore, united Republican conference. The Republican conference right now has been torn asunder and we are working hard to put it back together again this weekend by making sure this bill gets stopped.

Roy threatened ramifications if the bill isn’t rejected:

No matter what happens, there is going to be a reckoning about what just occurred unless we stop this bill by tomorrow.

Boebert also struck a slightly softened tone on McCarthy, saying that the House had done its job, already:

We made it clear at the outset of Congress we would not continue business as usual here in Washington DC. McCarthy did his job, but unfortunately Biden and the Democrat-controlled Senate did not do theirs. The House did our job, we passed a bill, we passed a decent bill. None of us wanted to increase the debt ceiling, but we came together and said if we can make some fiscal reforms and some cuts that actually make sense to the American people then we are willing to do that, rather than go into default. Now, we must again, in the House, do our jobs.

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Roy questioned if McCarthy could even get a majority vote of Republicans, saying:

I don’t think he even has a majority of his own conference at this point. ‘Don’t tell me you are gonna put me over a barrel for four trillion dollars because you refuse to do your job,’ that’s what McCarthy should have told the President.

Upcoming Election

Chairman Perry condemned the impacts of the deal on the next presidential administration, saying:

And, oh, by the way, puts the incoming president, whether that’s Joe Biden or whether that’s a Republican, having to deal with it in a lame-duck session.

Roy pointed out that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had publicly opposed the deal as well as former President Trump, noting:

President Trump thought we should default rather than pursue this kind of lunacy. At the end of the day, the only person that would default this town is Joe Biden, unless Republicans default on the American Dream by voting for this bad bill.

Rep. Boebert, mirrored this sentiment, calling the bill an “anti-deal,” and saying it would “kick the can down the road” while allowing the Biden administration to spend an unlimited amount of money:

More Washington gimmicks from the swamp that kicks the proverbial can down the road. Tomorrow’s bill hands Biden a blank check as it doesn’t actually set a debt limit. This is an unlimited debt increase, allowing him to spend as much money as he wants through the end of his term.

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Rep Donalds called it a “swampy game,”:

The American people will not be able to speak to it in the next election, right before another president is elected, that’s a swampy game.

No Default?

Many members of the caucus said that they didn’t believe the US would default on the debt anyway, calling it a scare tactic.

Rep Perry:

No chance of ever defaulting, that was never gonna happen, that was a scare tactic.

And Rep. Ralph Norman added:

We’ve asked for Janet Yellen’s figures, but with all due respect, she brings no integrity to this conversation. We don’t believe her figures.

Rep. Norman implied Yellen was being an alarmist and moving the goalposts, saying:

Folks, its time to go back to the drawing table its time for us to say ‘no.’ And look, I don’t buy Janet Yellen’s ‘the sky is falling.’ She’s moved the X date three times. June first, now its June fifth, and I hear it’s June eighth. What gives? Tax revenue is gonna be coming in, we’re not gonna default, they’re gonna say this, let’s call their bluff on it.

Norman added: “The best deal is no deal.”

 

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article referred to the press conference as occurring on Wednesday, rather than Tuesday. We apologize to our readers for the error. 

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