House Freedom Caucus Throws Wrench Into Congress’ Government Spending Fight

Arjun Singh 

The House Freedom Caucus has issued a list of demands for 12 appropriations bills that will be considered by Congress in September, which must be passed to avoid a government shutdown, according to a press release issued on Monday.

The Caucus has often clashed with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans on government spending, arguing for more cuts and the inclusion of conservative priorities in legislation. On Monday, the Caucus issued four demands of the appropriations process, indicating that they will not vote for a spending bill excluding their demands in a narrowly divided House, according to a press release.

The Caucus announced it would not support any funding bill that does not “include the House-passed ‘Secure the Border Act of 2023’ to cease the unchecked flow of illegal migrants, combat the evils of human trafficking, and stop the flood of dangerous fentanyl into our communities.” The Secure the Border Act, passed by the House in a party-line vote on May 11, includes provisions to construct a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico and bars asylum applications from migrants who entered the country illegally as well as from those who transited a “safe” third country, which have been strongly opposed by Democrats, who control the Senate.

President Joe Biden has vowed to veto the Secure the Border Act if it ever passes Congress.

The Caucus’ second demand is that House Republicans “[a]ddress the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and the FBI,” likely referring to the GOP’s broad criticism of the prosecution of former President Donald Trump by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Trump has been indicted by DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith in two jurisdictions, Miami and Washington, D.C., related to his possession of classified documents and attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Its third demand is that appropriations bills be used to “end the Left’s cancerous woke policies in the Pentagon undermining our military’s core warfighting mission.” Congressional Republicans have previously criticized the Department of Defense for advertising aimed at recruiting LGBTQ individuals and reading lists including books by race-conscious authors.

The Caucus’ final ultimatum is that it will “oppose any blank check for Ukraine in any supplemental appropriations bill.” Biden submitted a supplemental request for monies to Congress on Aug. 10 that included $24 billion in aid to Ukraine, which has been opposed by many in the Caucus who argue that the United States should not spend its money to support the country in its response to ongoing Russia’s invasion.

Congress will need to pass all 12 appropriations bills by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown. The Caucus has warned that it will not vote for a continuing resolution, a stop-gap measure that temporarily funds the government, at current levels of spending, which it opposes — a demand likely to be opposed by Senate Democrats.

The White House, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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