Conservative World Fractures Over McCarthy’s Debt Limit Deal

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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Fiscally conservative non-profit groups, who have long been the loudest advocates for limiting federal spending in Washington, D.C., are split on whether to support the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the compromise legislation negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The bill would suspend the nation’s debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025, thereby preventing a debt default set to occur as early as June 5 and allowing limitless borrowing during this period, with several cuts to public spending and policy measures demanded by conservatives being included in exchange. However, some fiscally conservative groups think the bill doesn’t go far enough and are opposing its passage. (RELATED: ‘It’s A Fiscal Win’: Former Trump Official Praises McCarthy Over Debt Ceiling Deal)

“[T]he Fiscal Responsibility Act continues a march slowly speeding off a cliff toward the fiscal crisis enabled by the unsustainable national debt,” wrote the Club For Growth, adding that it is a “misleadingly named bill which is not actually fiscally responsible because it continues trillion-dollar deficits every year in the future.” The Club urged members of Congress to vote “No” and said it would score members on their votes for its 2023 Congressional scorecard.

They were joined by the Heritage Foundation, whose president, Kevin Roberts, said that “leverage was given away” by Republicans in negotiations with the Biden administration. He criticized the bill for “[leaving] untouched Biden’s slush fund for 87,000 new IRS agents…and giving up on the $132 billion in cuts promised by [the] Limit, Save, Grow Act,” referring to the debt limit measure House Republicans passed in April.

“Overall, this agreement would continue America’s trajectory towards economic destruction and expanded federal control,” wrote Roberts. The Heritage Foundation’s affiliated lobby group, Heritage Action, also announced its opposition and threatened members voting “Yea” with a downgrade on its scorecard.

By contrast, some conservative groups have urged Congress to swiftly pass the bill, among them being Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax group that sponsors the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” among political candidates. The group’s federal affairs manager, Isabelle Morales, wrote that the bill was “a crucial step in the right direction” and “does not include any tax hikes or leftist priorities.”

Another group, Americans for Prosperity, praised the bill for its “modest reforms” and urged members to support the bill, though it stated that more needed to be done. “[I]t only begins to address what is needed to fix our nation’s underlying spending problems,” an officer wrote.

In its letter to McCarthy on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which McCarthy has touted as the “largest spending cut in history.” However, some of its provisions would raise spending, such as new work requirements for SNAP food stamps which will cost $2.1 billion more to enforce, per the CBO.

Nearly 50 members from both parties are likely to oppose the bill, per reports, requiring Democratic support to pass it.

Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the bill’s sponsor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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