Will party that boasts about conservatism save country $33 trillion in debt? It looks doubtful

Will party that boasts about conservatism save country $33 trillion in debt? It looks doubtful

Will party that boasts about conservatism save country $33 trillion in debt? It looks doubtful

House Republicans have a reputation for putting the “power of the purse” on a lofty pedestal, especially when describing Democrats and their spending, but now Republicans are being accused of working on a watered-down proposal over fear of a government shutdown.

That bipartisan deal is not what Rep. Chip Roy, the vocal Texas lawmaker, is seeking.

“What I think is going to occur, and I may be wrong, is that we may very well end up with some of our moderate small group cutting a deal to keep government funded at roughly current levels, likely with some emergency funding and maybe even some Ukraine funding,” Roy, who represents Texas’ 21st district, said on American Family Radio Wednesday.

President Joe Biden in August asked Congress for an additional $40 billion with $24 billion earmarked for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

Republicans have an opportunity to use their leverage and to demand change, Roy said of the current negotiations, but there is now a "tactical disagreement" among House conservatives. 

"My belief was we have to find a way to work together to give some cover to the more moderate members of our conference, and frankly ourselves, to go to war if we're going to head into a shutdown where we create a message,” Roy told show host Jenna Ellis.

For Roy that means a 8% cut to non-defense, non-veteran spending and a hardcore border security bill that he says would be “massive advancement” of the current U.S. southern border situation.

Gaetz: Make the agencies defend their budgets

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a fellow Freedom Caucus member with Roy, is a longtime critic of massive “omnibus” spending packages that group together numerous bills with little evaluation and debate. He blames Speaker Kevin McCarthy for growing spending in Congress.

“There’s always a way forward, but it won’t be business as usual. I believe it is fundamentally unserious for the United States of America to have its lawmakers cast one vote on all of the funding for these disparate agencies from the Department of Labor to the Department of Education to the EPA. These agencies should have to stand up and defend their budgets, and those budgets should be open to amendments from Republicans and Democrats to reduce spending,” Gaetz said on Washington Watch Tuesday.

Gaetz said the U.S. is facing annual budget deficits of $2 trillion on top of $33 trillion in debt.

“We've got to embrace the path forward of single subject spending bills. Kevin McCarthy promised this to us when he became speaker, and he has failed to deliver, which is why we're in the position we're in now,” he told show host Tony Perkins.

GOP could squeeze Dems over southern border 

Last week, 13 conservative groups signed a letter to Congress asking that a strong border plan be attached to any additional spending.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection numbers provided by the groups, migrants crossings at the Southern border have exceeded 7 million under the Biden Administration, a figure that does not include almost 2 million more “gotaways.”

“The border crisis needs to end immediately,” Roy wrote Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter. “A continuing resolution that includes H.R. 2 – the strongest border security bill in Congress – is the vehicle to get it across the finish line.”

That vehicle appears in serious jeopardy after House Republicans’ round of talks late Tuesday. Reacting to that, Roy also called out moderate party members on X in a barrage of statements. 

“Go explain that you’re voting against a 30-day, 8% cut to the federal bureaucracy while having a piece of legislation attached to it that is the strongest border legislation ever passed,” he wrote.

Roy, Rep. Chip (R-Texas) Roy

“We’re up against the wall, but some of us are trying to see if we can find a place to come together and land the plane. I’ve been in shutdowns before. I have no problem going into a shutdown,” the Texas lawmaker further state on the social media site. 

In an interview with AFN, Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform said Republicans deserved credit for passing H.R. 2, the Secure the Borders Act. The bill wasn't going to survive in the Democrat-controlled Senate, Mehlman says, but now the GOP has a chance to force Democrats to shut down the government and ignore the border crisis.

"For the American public, it's a no-brainer. They want the border closed and the government open," Mehlman says. 

However, Roy said Tuesday in his Twitter thread that talks did not produce an agreement on his proposed 8% cut with H.R. 2 attached.

“That was my position. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an agreement on that. A handful of my colleagues broke, so now we don’t have that as a vehicle to browbeat Chuck Schumer and browbeat the Democrats for not securing our border and making that the central fight of a (potential) shutdown,” he wrote. 

McCarthy's paralysis from analysis 

In the AFR radio interview, Roy described what is happening behind the scenes on Capitol Hill. He said McCarthy consumes and studies information to the point that he becomes too slow to act. He needs to be more active, Roy said, in bringing conservative and moderate Republicans to a consensus.

“When he was engaged earlier this year and forced to get something done, we were able to accomplish some pretty extraordinary things: the H.R. 2, border security bill, being a good example, a conservative National Defense Authorization Act that did a whole lot of the things I was describing about defunding abortion tourism and defunding transgender surgery, defunding critical race theory, things like that,” Roy said.

But a Department of Defense spending bill on the House floor Tuesday did not get the votes to pass. It called for a modest spending increase but also some important initiatives.

“That Department of Defense bill spent a little more than I would have preferred but it was a less than 3% increase. It didn’t have any meaningful Ukraine funding. Unfortunately, it was voted down which means we didn’t get the changes that would have cut funding for abortion tourism, funding for transgender surgeries, funding for chief diversity officers, and for critical race theory.

“There’s an old line from a country song that says, ‘You’re so Heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.’ That’s kind of the way I feel right now,” Roy said.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Ira Mehlman.