House Freedom Caucus to McCarthy: ‘Use Every Leverage’ in Debt Limit Negotiation

House Freedom Caucus to McCarthy: ‘Use Every Leverage’ in Debt Limit Negotiation
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), joined by members of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks at a news conference on the infrastructure bill outside the Capitol Building in Washington on Aug. 23, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Lawrence Wilson
5/19/2023
Updated:
5/19/2023
0:00

Members of the House Freedom Caucus have urged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Republicans to “use every leverage” to get the House debt limit bill signed into law.

“The U.S. House of Representatives has done its job in passing the Limit, Save, Grow Act to provide a mechanism to raise the debt ceiling. This legislation is the official position of the House Freedom Caucus and, by its passage with 217 votes, the entire House Republican Conference,” the group of 46 conservative Republicans said in a May 18 statement.

The caucus, led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), also appeared to advocate abandoning negotiations over lifting the debt ceiling now taking place between surrogates for President Joe Biden and McCarthy.

“There should be no further discussion until the Senate passes the legislation,” the statement concluded.

The House Freedom Caucus statement was released shortly after a group of Democratic senators, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), urged the president to invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid a default if negotiations on the debt ceiling break down of if Republicans insist on enacting the full provisions of the Limit, Save, Grow Act.

So far, Sanders and 10 Democratic senators have signed a letter to that effect.

“I think it’s the best solution we have. It’s not perfect. But throwing … millions of people off of health care and creating a situation with children in this country going hungry, that’s less perfect,” Sanders said.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act passed the House on April 26, bringing the president to the negotiating table with the speaker after a monthslong standoff over raising the debt limit in exchange for spending cuts and other Republican proposals.

The measure would raise the debt ceiling through March 2024 while reducing federal spending, strengthening work requirements for some recipients of federal benefits, clawing back unspent COVID-19 relief funds, and loosening restrictions on drilling for oil and gas.

Passage of the bill through a narrowly divided House and amid significant policy differences between the Republican caucus’ moderate and conservative wings was seen as a significant victory for McCarthy.

The country will reach its statutory $31.4 trillion debt limit on or after June 1 if the ceiling is not raised, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. If that happens, the Treasury would be unable to meet the nation’s financial obligations in full, an event many experts believe would be disastrous for the U.S. economy.

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