House Freedom Caucus Chair Won’t Commit To McCarthy’s Bill, Will Consider Higher Debt Ceiling For More Cuts

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  • Republican Rep. Scott Perry, Chair of the House Freedom Caucus, has told the DCNF he’s willing to “entertain” a higher debt ceiling beyond $1.5 trillion as part of “horse trading” over spending cuts.
  • Perry, whose caucus has been singled out by President Joe Biden for an “extreme budget proposal,” did not commit to supporting the House GOP plan, which has been endorsed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
  • The debt-ceiling impasse between Biden and the Freedom Caucus is becoming Washington’s top political issue, as Congress must pass a debt-limit increase by August or else risk a U.S. sovereign debt default.

The chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives demanding fiscal responsibility by the federal government, says that he may accept an increase in the U.S. debt limit beyond the current proposal laid out by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the caucus chair, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the caucus is willing to entertain increasing in the nation’s borrowing ability beyond the House GOP’s proposed $1.5 trillion, provided he receives more spending cuts in exchange. “If they want, instead, 2 or 3 [trillion dollars]. OK, I’m not going to be immediately opposed to that. What are you going to offer?” he told the DCNF.

Perry said that the Freedom Caucus is willing to engage in “horse trading” on the debt ceiling. “If you don’t like the cuts, tell me what else you want. We can do some horse trading and take a look at what your proposal is,” he told the DCNF. (RELATED: Kevin McCarthy Proposes Raising Debt Ceiling, Large Spending Cuts In Budget Plan)

Perry was speaking of the debt-ceiling proposal announced by McCarthy on Wednesday as a stop-gap solution to avoid a U.S. national debt default, which is projected to occur in August absent congressional action to raise the debt ceiling. The U.S. national debt is currently $31.46 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury, which is 120% the size of the economy, per the Federal Reserve.

President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have been pushing for a unilateral increase in the debt limit, de-linked from budget talks, while House Republicans have argued that any increase must be accompanied by cuts in the federal budget to prevent greater spending that creates large debts. “[Biden’s] spending unimaginable amounts of money even after the pandemic is over. He wants to spend over $7 trillion. That’s insane,” said Perry.

The Freedom Caucus, however, would not commit to supporting the House GOP proposal, which was drafted along with Republican Rep. Jody Arrington, the House Budget Committee chair. “The devil’s always in the details. We’re going through the language right now, and everybody must live up to the things they said they agreed to,” he said.

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To pass the bill along party lines, the House GOP — which has a House majority of merely nine seats — will need Freedom Caucus votes. The bill, in its current form, is unlikely to gain any Democratic support as it repeals key progressive policies, such as clean energy and technology tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act and the Biden administration’s Student Debt Relief program.

The White House has argued that repealing those tax credits — totaling $270 billion per the Department of Labor — would amount to a tax hike, which the Freedom Caucus has rebuffed. To this, Perry said, “[It] is wrong to think that repealing the IRA tax credits will be raising taxes. … [They] harm our ability to provide reliable energy, and will singlehandedly impose the ruination of our economy.”

While not vowing to support the bill, Perry did take credit for influencing its basic provision — a $1.5 trillion increase in the debt limit, to last until March 31, 2024, along with a 1% cap on all discretionary spending increases for the next decade. “That’s what we proposed in March,” he said, “we advocated for those restrictions,” which would cut about $3.2 trillion in spending over 10 years, per the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

When asked about his bottom lines for negotiations, Perry said those “rescissions and savings” in the House GOP’s proposal were what he would “tolerate,” with any increase in the debt ceiling requiring more cuts and budget caps.

Biden, who has singled out the House Freedom Caucus in his budget criticism of Republicans, has also suggested that the Freedom Caucus wants to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits as part of their plan, a suggestion that Perry rebuffed. “As we said in March, nothing we are discussing touches upon Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

However, cuts to both programs, which cost $2.5 trillion in 2022 and made up 40% of the federal budget per the CBO, have been suggested by several Republicans, including some Freedom Caucus members, who argue that deficit reduction is impossible without addressing them. When asked in December about whether he’d support a debt hike without cuts to the programs, Republican Rep. Chip Roy, the Freedom Caucus’s Policy Chair, said “Hell no.” (RELATED: SAVICKAS: Congress Has To Grab The Political Third Rail Everyone Prefers To Ignore)

“There’s a lot of fat and garbage that’s way off the mission that we can cut,” Roy said of mandatory spending, including Medicare and Social Security, to CNN. His comments have been echoed by other current and prospective 2024 Republican presidential primary candidates, who’ve called for reforming the programs, such as former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Regardless of budget negotiations, experts have warned that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic for the global economy and would prompt a loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and possibly a recession.

Perry noted that, for negotiations to proceed, he would need to see a debt-ceiling proposal from Democrats, who have released a budget proposal without a debt-ceiling request. McCarthy has asked Biden for a meeting to negotiate a solution and see their proposal, to which he has not responded.

“We need to see their proposal. We didn’t get elected to bankrupt the country.”

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