Spending deal that helped sink McCarthy sees new hope as conservatives ease up

Source: The Hill | December 5, 2023 | Aris Folley

After months of infighting, bruising failed floor votes and the historic ouster of their leader, House Republicans could end up falling back on a bipartisan debt ceiling deal struck by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this year that helped lead to his undoing.

The agreement, brokered by the White House and GOP leadership, appears to be seeing the greatest glimmers of hope since its passage in the spring, as hard-line conservatives soften demands for cuts steeper than those laid out in the compromise.

“Basically, they agreed to what we had said all along, that the numbers that the Speaker agreed to with the president were the numbers that are set and the numbers we should live by,” Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), a spending cardinal on the House Appropriations Committee, told The Hill.

House Republicans have repeatedly clashed this year over spending, as the right flank pressured GOP leadership to take a more aggressive stance on spending levels in the conference’s 12 annual government funding bills.

The strategy was to achieve the most conservative starting position possible ahead of eventual negotiations with Senate Democrats. But as the House GOP struggles to unify behind its five remaining funding bills, some in the right flank are letting up on their push for significantly lower funding levels, which they acknowledge is no longer achievable.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), head of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, said last week that the $1.59 trillion discretionary spending level set as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) for fiscal 2024 needed to be accepted as “the limit” in bicameral spending negotiations. 

While he said the number is still “too high” for the caucus, his comments come as the group is pressing for both chambers to begin to conference their drastically different batch of funding bills as soon as possible, particularly as Congress stares down another government shutdown deadline in January. 

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