The hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus said it plans to oppose any stopgap government funding bill that doesn’t include policy measures relating to the border, the Department of Justice and “woke” policies at the Pentagon, according to a draft press release obtained by The Hill.
The official position against a “clean” continuing resolution comes after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told House GOP members last week that he expects to move a short-term measure to fund the government past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and avert a government shutdown.
The Freedom Caucus’s demands on a continuing resolution put pressure on House GOP leaders, who can afford to lose just a handful of votes in their slim majority before needing Democratic support to pass any bills. There are around three dozen Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus, more than enough to sink any party-line measure.
The draft release said the Freedom Caucus will “refuse to support any such measure that continues Democrats’ bloated COVID-era spending and simultaneously fails to force the Biden Administration to follow the law and fulfill its most basic responsibilities,” and that “any support for a ‘clean’ Continuing Resolution would be an affirmation of the current FY 2023 spending level grossly increased by the lame-duck December 2022 omnibus spending bill that we all vehemently opposed just seven months ago.”
The group said its members will oppose any spending measure that does not address three policy areas: the border, the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice and FBI, and “woke” policies in the military.
The Freedom Caucus wants any stopgap to “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 House GOP passed that border legislation, dubbed H.R. 2, in May. The bill boosts border technology, restarts border wall construction and adds new restrictions on asylum seekers, among other measures.
The group also calls on lawmakers to “address the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI to focus them on prosecuting real criminals instead of conducting political witch hunts and targeting law-abiding citizens.”
The renewed stance against government “weaponization” comes as former President Trump was indicted for a fourth time last week.
Finally, the Freedom Caucus calls to “end the Left’s cancerous woke policies in the Pentagon undermining our military’s core warfighting mission.”
Earlier this year, Freedom Caucus members had pushed for amendments to the annual defense authorization bill to reverse the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing travel expenses for service members who get abortions; barring the Pentagon from paying for transgender medical care; and gutting diversity and inclusion programs.
The group is also wary of being cornered into an omnibus spending measure through a continuing resolution bumping up against a deadline.
“Furthermore, we will oppose any attempt by Washington to revert to its old playbook of using a series of short-term funding extensions designed to push Congress up against a December deadline to force the passage of yet another monstrous, budget busting, pork filled, lobbyist handout omnibus spending bill at year’s end and we will use every procedural tool necessary to prevent that outcome,” the Freedom Caucus draft release said.
The Freedom Caucus acknowledged that time is running out to pass all of the regular appropriations bills through the House, let alone find agreement with the Democratic-controlled Senate — which has marked up appropriations bills at higher levels — on spending. The House is in session for just three weeks before the Sept. 30 government funding deadline, and has passed just one of 12 regular appropriation bills.
The House GOP has marked up appropriations bills at lower levels than the caps that McCarthy negotiated with President Biden in a debt limit bill passed earlier this year — sinking Democratic support for the funding bills. But the Freedom Caucus has decried GOP leaders for counting clawbacks of funds to get to its topline figures.
“As Congress continues to work to pass appropriations bills, we must rein in the reckless inflationary spending, and the out-of-control federal bureaucracy it funds, crushing the American people,” the official Freedom Caucus position said. “We remain committed to restoring the true FY 2022 topline spending level of $1.471 trillion without the use of gimmicks or reallocated rescissions to return the bureaucracy to its pre-COVID size while allowing for adequate defense funding.”
Congress has an incentive to complete its funding work by Jan. 1, due to a provision in the debt limit bill passed earlier this year to automatically cut a continuing resolution across the board by one percent if Congress does not approve all its funding measures.
McCarthy told Republican lawmakers on a conference call last week that he expects to move a continuing resolution but does not want it to last so long that it jams up against the winter holidays, according to multiple sources on the call.
The Freedom Caucus also signaled opposition to President Biden’s supplemental appropriations request for an additional $24 billion to assist Ukraine in its war fighting off a Russian invasion.
“Lastly, we will oppose any blank check for Ukraine in any supplemental appropriations bill,” the group said.
Any official Freedom Caucus position requires the support from at least 80 percent of the group’s membership.