Freedom Caucus members foreshadow federal spending fight, not afraid of government shutdown

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House Freedom Caucus members criticized Republican leadership for trying to pass a pair of federal appropriations bills this week, saying they want to see all the spending bills first — and added that they’re not afraid to force a government shutdown.

The conservative group said they want to be sure that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would uphold his end of the debt-ceiling deal reached with President Biden by curbing spending.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, Montana Republican, said that he and fellow Freedom Caucus members oppose Mr. McCarthy’s plan to “trickle” all 12 annual spending measures onto the floor because they want to be able to determine the final price tag before it’s too late.

“We want to see all 12 of the appropriation bills,” Mr. Rosendale told reporters. “We want leadership to uphold their end of the deal, and that way 218 Members of Congress that voted to curb spending, to rein in spending, can actually get the job done.”

Their stance comes as the House prepares to consider its first pair of the dozen federal appropriations bills, these ones dealing with the military and veterans and with agriculture.

Given the Republicans’ razor-thin majority in the House — they can only afford to lose five votes — even a partial rebellion among the roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus could doom the appropriations bills.

That could cause a government shutdown or force Mr. McCarthy to rely on Democratic votes to fund the government at who-knows-what price.

But Rep. Bob Good, Virginia Republican, said the Freedom Caucus members did not “fear a government shutdown.”

“Our speaker has an opportunity to be a transformational historical speaker that stared down the Democrats, that stared down the free spenders, that stared down the president and said ‘no, we’re gonna do what the American people elected us to do,’” Mr. Good told reporters.

The magic number on which House Freedom Caucus members have their eye is $1.471 trillion in non-defense discretionary spending, returning to pre-pandemic spending levels.

“We’re sounding the warning call,” Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, told reporters. “We’re reminding our leadership, ‘you need the votes.’ And we’re begging our leadership to listen to us. Do not take us on a further irresponsible spending path.”

Caucus members also said that they wanted 72 hours to review the bills, which was part of the deal Mr. McCarthy made with them to in order to secure his bid for House speaker.

Looming on the horizon is the Sept. 30 deadline that lawmakers have to meet to advance all 12 of the federal spending bills.

Mr. Biggs also said that he was not worried about missing that deadline.

He said the likeliest result would be portions of the dozen spending bills passing in an omnibus bill, followed by a short-term spending measure that would keep government funding at existing levels while lawmakers work until December to iron out spending issues.

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