More than two dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus are pressing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for answers on his plan to advance spending bills before advancing a short-term funding measure to avert a government shutdown.
The Thursday letter to McCarthy comes as he is preparing to bring a short-term spending bill that includes border security measures for a House vote Friday, according to multiple House GOP members.
Hesitance from the Freedom Caucus members signal an uphill climb for getting that bill through the slim House GOP majority. The government is slated to shut down after 11:59 p.m. Saturday, unless Congress can pass a funding solution.
“No Member of Congress can or should be expected to consider supporting a stop-gap funding measure without answers to these reasonable questions,” said the letter, led by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and signed by 26 other members of the hard-line conservative group.
The letter listed numerous questions about the state of regular full-year appropriations bills, including the plan to address GOP opposition to several of the four bills being considered on the House floor; the schedule for the five appropriations bills that have been passed out of the committee and to mark up the last two spending bills; how additional agreed-upon cuts will be implemented across other bills; and whether the House will stay in session
Finally, the letter asked McCarthy to “publicly refute and reject the Schumer-McConnell Continuing Resolution” — the Senate’s stopgap plan to extend government funding to Nov. 17 that includes $6.15 billion in funding for Ukraine and $5.99 billion in disaster assistance. The Freedom Caucus lawmakers asked what McCarthy was doing to “proactively oppose and defeat this ‘Omnibus Preparation Act.’”
“We remain ready to continue working in good faith with our colleagues across the Republican Conference to advance appropriations; likewise, we expect you to take every step necessary to pass these bills — starting with the four bills now under consideration to fund approximately two-thirds of the federal government,” the letter later said.
McCarthy and his allies hope that the House GOP’s short-term stopgap with border measures could set the conference up to extract concessions on border policy from the White House and Senate.
But that is only if they can pass it. At least six House GOP members — enough to sink a party-line vote, assuming full attendance — have publicly said they will oppose any kind of short-term funding measure as they demand the House continues work on regular full-year appropriations bills.
One of those opposed to any stopgap signed the Freedom Caucus letter, including Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.).
But the letter also includes some members who indicated they could support the House GOP plan.
“I don’t want to lock this country down to the excessive spending that the Senate has. So it’s the lesser of two evils,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a Freedom Caucus member who signed the letter, said of the House GOP stopgap plan earlier Thursday.
Text for the House GOP stopgap has not yet been released, but McCarthy has indicated it would be a proposal that the conference discussed last week, attaching the bulk of the House Republicans’ H.R. 2 border crackdown bill that passed earlier this year.
In addition to the border measures, McCarthy said the bill would also cut discretionary funding for the duration of a CR to a top-line spending level of $1.471 trillion — the number from the House GOP’s “Limit, Save, Grow” partisan debt limit bill from earlier this year that was consistent with fiscal 2022 levels. Republicans in a conference meeting last week also discussed creating a commission to examine the national debt.