Group of House Conservatives Unveils Demands to Avoid Shutdown and Support Spending Bill

House conservatives, part of a group known as the Freedom Caucus, have unveiled a list of demands that they want included in a stopgap spending measure to keep the federal government running after the end of September. 

It’s a slew of non-starters for the White House and Democrat-controlled Senate. It signaled the challenges Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy will face next month to pass a House bill without alienating a substantial share of his conference. 

Historically, Freedom Caucus members rarely support short-term spending bills to keep the government running. Still, with the GOP holding only a five-seat majority in the House, they have significant leverage over the agenda. Still, Speaker McCarthy will likely need votes from Dems to pass a short-term funding measure that can also get through the Senate and be signed into law. 

Among the demands of the House Freedom Caucus include: 

•           Inclusion of a bill aimed to build more southern border wall and restrict asylum for those seeking to remain in the U.S. for fear of harm or persecution. 

•           Opposing any “blank check for Ukraine.” The White House has requested Congress provide more than $13 billion in emergency defense aid and another $8 billion for humanitarian support as Ukraine continues to defend itself from Russia’s invasion. 

•           Spending levels below the top-line numbers Speaker McCarthy had agreed to with President Joe Biden as part of a bill to increase the U.S. debt ceiling. 

•           Addressing what they call the “unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI” to conduct “witch hunts” based on politics.

The House Freedom Caucus has labeled its message “No Security, No Funding.” Some group members have embraced the idea of a government work stoppage to force lower non-defense spending. However, several Republicans disagree with that approach for fear of blame from voters. 

Legislators won’t have time to get all 12 funding bills approved

Legislators will return to Washington after Labor Day and won’t have time to approve all 12 federal funding bills before the new fiscal year starts on October 1. Last week, McCarthy floated the idea of a short-term bridge that would give the Senate and House more time to compromise on final yearly spending levels. 

If Congress does not pass the spending bills into law by January 1, it raises the potential of an across-the-board 1% reduction in spending for the year that will kick in at the end of April. 

Senate Democrats are on board with approving a short-term spending bill, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reporters last week. 

“We hope that our House Republicans will realize that any funding resolution has to be bipartisan, or they will risk shutting down the government,” said Schumer.