Home Conservatives are making new calls for that threaten talks
WASHINGTON — A powerful bloc of Conservatives in the US House of Representatives on Friday made new demands they said must be met before they would agree to a vote to raise the debt ceiling.
The House Freedom Caucus list includes drastic cuts in federal spending, a return to Clinton-era labor requirements for public support, and an end to “federal regulations and subsidies” on domestic energy production, according to a one-page summary released by the group.
The demands go far beyond what other House Republicans have said they want and threaten to delay talks later this year on a vote to raise the debt ceiling, currently set at $31.4 trillion to turn your head. The list, presented at a Capitol Hill news conference, suggests that the HFC may want to appear as a separate faction in upcoming debt ceiling negotiations, independent of Republican leadership.
With 222 Republicans and 218 votes needed to pass legislation in the House of Representatives, Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s path is complicated because he cannot afford to lose more than four members of his group on any given vote without Democratic support . The House Freedom Caucus, which has around 45 members, represents more than enough votes to scrap virtually any law unless McCarthy reaches an agreement with Democrats.
The US reached the current debt ceiling in January this year, prompting Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to initiate a series of well-established steps known as “extraordinary measures”. The moves allowed the government to continue borrowing money to meet its obligations.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that measures will be exhausted this summer, after which the United States could default on its debt, something unprecedented in the nation’s history. Yellen has warned that a default would cause widespread economic damage.
“Since 1789, the United States has always paid its bills on time. They must continue to do so,” Yellen told the House Ways and Means Committee at a Friday morning hearing.
“A default on our debt would trigger an economic and financial catastrophe,” Yellen told the tax committee. “I urge all members of Congress to come together to address the debt ceiling — with no strings attached and without waiting until the last minute.”
President Joe Biden has so far refused to negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling. But he has left open the possibility of gaining support in the House for a debt ceiling hike through next year’s federal budget negotiations.
Biden released its 2024 federal budget on Thursday. The 182-page document is widely seen as the White House’s opening salvo in the debate with House Republicans.
The Biden budget would fund federal programs and reduce the federal deficit by imposing significant new taxes on the wealthy, including a 25% minimum tax for the wealthiest Americans. It would also increase taxes on oil and gas companies, raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Republican lawmakers immediately swung the budget. In a statement, McCarthy called it “completely frivolous.”
But the unanimous Republican opposition to Biden’s budget is far from embarking on a budget of its own.
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Jody Arrington, R-Texas, said Friday at the Ways and Means hearing that his committee’s budget process has been delayed by the government’s timetable.
But he promised that the committee would create a Republican budget that reflected the party’s “vision.”