Freedom Caucus pushes Speaker Johnson for full-year CR in absence of policy concessions

Freedom Caucus pushes Speaker Johnson for full-year CR in absence of policy concessions
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The House Freedom Caucus pressed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to put forward a yearlong stopgap funding bill, which would trigger automatic cuts to government spending, if he can’t win concessions on controversial conservative policy riders.

In a letter to Johnson on Wednesday, the hard-line conservative caucus also asked for an update regarding spending talks with Democrats ahead of a March 1 deadline to prevent a partial government shutdown.

“With the expiration of government funding rapidly approaching, negotiations continue behind closed doors and as a result, we anticipate text for likely omnibus legislation that we fear will be released at the latest moment before being rushed to the floor for a vote,” the caucus stated in the letter. “House Republicans should not be left in the dark on the status of the spending levels and hard-fought policy provisions.”

Johnson has faced pressure from his right flank to hold the line for lower spending in ongoing bipartisan talks and to push for a laundry list of policy riders related to abortion, diversity initiatives, border issues and other GOP priorities.

Included in a list of provisions outlined in the letter are measures that would reduce “Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ salary to $0,” target the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy and defund Planned Parenthood, as well as other items taking aim some of the Biden administration’s actions on student loans and funding for what it described as a “new, massive Pentagon-sized headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Many of these important policies (and more) were critical in securing the passage of bills in both the Appropriations Committee and in the House last year,” according to the letter. “There are MANY other policies and personnel that Congress should not be funding, and a failure to eliminate them will reduce the probability that the appropriations bills will be supported by even a majority of Republicans.”

“If we are not going to secure significant policy changes or even keep spending below the caps adopted by bipartisan majorities less than one year ago, why would we proceed when we could instead pass a year-long funding resolution that would save Americans $100 billion in year one?” the group asked.

Under a budget caps deal brokered between President Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last year, lawmakers agreed to set new spending limits to adhere to for fiscal 2024, as well as a penalty for automatic cuts that could take effect in April if Congress didn’t finish its funding work on time.

However, some experts have warned that dollars for government programs could suffer from much tighter constraints than lawmakers bargained for as part of budget caps agreement in the event of a full-year continuing resolution (CR) funding plan — an idea that has already drawn opposition from Democrats and Republicans.

The letter comes as some members have already raised concerns that Congress could be headed for another short-term funding patch next week to keep various parts of the government open as bipartisan spending talks heat up.

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