The lawmakers of the House Freedom Caucus are not fans of tradition in Washington, especially when it comes to funding the federal government.
Members of the conservative caucus pitched a slate of demands this week as their condition for earning their support of a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
So far, the House has only passed one out of a dozen funding measures, while the Senate has advanced all of its spending bills from the committee.
House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry told The Washington Times that the caucus wants to break the typical cycle of Congress passing short-term spending measures until the only option left is to advance a bloated “omnibus” package, which crams all 12 federal spending bills into one colossal piece of legislation.
“What we’re not going to accept is just a clean CR, the same old status quo that we always do that goes into December and pressurizes every member to vote for garbage to get home for Christmas and all that stuff,” Mr. Perry, Pennsylvania Republican, said. “We’re not doing that.”
The caucus’ topline items on the list included withholding support for any spending measure that does not address issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, weaponization of the Department of Justice, and putting an end to woke Pentagon policies. Their demands also are contingent on rolling back federal spending to 2022 levels.
Mr. Perry said the conservative group wants everything it’s asking for, but is open to compromise.
“Our ears are open, we’re willing to sit down, but we’ve got to get to something here,” Mr. Perry said.
The demands aren’t new for the caucus — the conservative lawmakers have been stumping for those changes since January.
Mr. Perry said that shoring up the U.S.-Mexico border is not a “novel issue,” saying Republicans have all campaigned on the stance to press the Biden administration to secure the southern border.
He said that the Secure the Border Act, which the House advanced earlier this year and has been touted as the strongest border security bill in the last century, should be included in any kind of stopgap measure.
The conservative caucus also has its sights set on the Department of Justice, which Mr. Perry said is “weaponized against the American people.”
House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Andrew Clyde said lawmakers “must use the power of the purse” to reign in the agency, which House Republicans have long labeled as promoting a two-tiered justice system for its handling of the probe into Hunter Biden and growing list of indictments against former President Donald Trump.
“It’s simply unacceptable to continue funding this agency’s corrupt practices of protecting the Biden crime family while persecuting President Trump and targeting law-abiding citizens,” said Mr. Clyde, Georgia Republican.
The Freedom Caucus already secured wins in halting woke Pentagon policies in June, when the House advanced the National Defense Authorization Act, which included amendments to end the Defense Department’s travel reimbursements for abortions and its coverage of transgender surgeries and treatments. The measure also gutted diversity and inclusion training in the military.
Mr. Perry would like to see the same type of changes addressed in a continuing resolution, or else the Freedom Caucus will vote against continuing to fund the Pentagon, he said.
Because of a slim majority in the lower chamber, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, will have to negotiate with the Freedom Caucus. Mr. McCarthy told lawmakers last week that he did not want an omnibus or a continuing resolution that would go deep into December.
A spokesperson for Mr. McCarthy affirmed the speaker’s position, and said any short-term spending measure would be used to continue work on federal spending bills that “lower spending in the bureaucracy and bring necessary changes to federal policy, and refocus our military to war-fighting capabilities and defense of our nation.”
GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said the move by the Freedom Caucus gives them leverage with Mr. McCarthy. That’s because the list of demands is popular with conservative voters, and echoes promises Republicans made to constituents back home.
“This is the Freedom Caucus not only demonstrating principle when it comes to spending, but also nudging McCarthy forward in terms of leadership on issues that are very important,” Mr. O’Connell said.