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House Freedom Caucus to air debt ceiling demands

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C walks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
In this March 28, 2017, file photo, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C walks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
By Ryan Mccrimmon Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – The House Freedom Caucus plans to lay out three ways members would support raising the debt ceiling this month, including overhauling the debt limit and payment system or making deep cuts to mandatory spending.

The roughly 40-member group of hardline conservatives will ask GOP leaders to raise the debt ceiling in July alongside other legislative provisions to win their support, as first reported by Axios and confirmed by CQ Roll Call.

One option is a bill from Freedom Caucus member David Schweikert, R-Ariz., that would call on the Treasury Department to rescind unobligated federal funds from agencies; sell off certain government assets; and issue bonds linked to gross domestic product, to pay down the public debt when Treasury estimates the debt limit will soon be reached.

The legislation was introduced by Schweikert last week and lists Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., as a co-sponsor.

Congress needs to suspend or raise the debt limit by early-to-mid October, according to recent estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Top lawmakers like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, have said they want to address the debt ceiling before the August recess – but a concrete plan for doing so has yet to emerge.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California declined to set a similar deadline for his chamber. He said that the House will wait to take up a debt limit vote until after Congress repeals and replaces the 2010 health care law.

“I want to get it done in advance, but there is no set (decision) that we have to do it in July,” McCarthy said before the Independence Day recess.

“I think health is going to have to get done first,” he continued.

The debt limit suspension expired on March 15 and since then, the Treasury Department has been using extraordinary measures to continue paying the nation’s bills.

Other options the Freedom Caucus will propose are tagging the debt limit increase to $250 billion in mandatory spending cuts over an unspecified time period or a full repeal of the 2010 health care law, a Freedom Caucus aide confirmed.

The three options are highly ambitious and would face certain resistance in the Senate if passed by the House.

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