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Freedom Caucus softens its demands for steeper cuts

House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) indicated Wednesday that the hard-line conservative group is easing up on demands for steeper cuts to government spending.

Perry told reporters that the spending levels agreed to as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), the debt limit deal brokered between President Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this year that included budget caps, have “to be the limit” in talks.

He also acknowledged the lower levels previously sought by the caucus aren’t achievable, after House Republicans faced internal clashes on funding legislation amid a push by the right flank for steeper cuts.

“It’s still too much for many of us, but [what] was agreed to around Memorial Day was this FRA number of $1.59 trillion. No more gimmicks: Most of the House voted for it; most of the Senate voted for it. That’s where we have to be,” he said.

“Let’s write the appropriations bills. Let’s get the spending bills right,” he said. “Let’s set that as the number, and then when we do that, let’s start conferencing bills.”

Pressed further about the $1.47 trillion top-line number that hard-line conservatives previously pushed for, Perry said members realized that “is not going to happen” and that $1.59 trillion “has to be the limit.”

“The point here is we want spending level to be 1.59 [billion] or lower,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) also said at the press conference.

The press conference was held as Congress is facing a time crunch to pass legislation to keep various government agencies funded or risk a partial shutdown in January.

However, the funding bills crafted in the GOP-led House and Democratic-led Senate are vastly different. And without an agreement on overall spending levels, spending cardinals in both chambers say it’s difficult to begin conferencing each of the 12 annual funding bills.

So far, the Senate has only passed three of its annual funding bills, and the House has passed seven of the 12 bills.

But the House’s remaining funding bills face tough hurdles amid internal disagreements in the GOP conference over spending cuts and policy riders in thorny areas such as abortion.

Roy said Wednesday he thinks there’s “probably three at least three or four others we could probably pass out of the House.”

“Get to conference. Let’s go work it through at a spending level at 1.59 [billion] or lower,” he said. “That’s what we’re saying. Let’s do our job.”

Mychael Schnell contributed.

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