Leaders of the Main Street Caucus, a prominent House GOP caucus of more than five dozen members, released a list of priorities for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to pursue as part of a measure to raise the debt ceiling.
“In recent weeks, the 70 members of the Republican Main Street Caucus have discussed the options you’ve identified, as well as some others. This letter outlines those proposals that have garnered the most support from our caucus, and we have every confidence they can secure 218 votes in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Caucus Chair Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Vice Chair Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) said in a statement.
Among the items the pair outlined in a release on Thursday are pitches to claw back billions in coronavirus funds they say have gone unspent, end the ongoing pause on federal student loans repayment and return non-defense discretionary spending to fiscal 2022 levels.
The caucus also called for growth to non-defense discretionary spending to be limited to 1.5 percent annually over the next decade, while pushing to beef up work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as the food stamps program, in addition to energy proposals.
They also pressed for a bipartisan panel that would be tasked with proposing solutions “increasing the sustainability of Medicare and Social Security” over half a year.
“Additionally, the commission should identify unnecessary mandatory spending unrelated to Medicare and Social Security, and direct those savings toward strengthening those two programs,” the release said. “The findings of the commission should be privileged and receive a floor vote within 60 days.”
The call comes as McCarthy has signaled the House GOP conference will move on its own with a debt ceiling bill if Democrats don’t come to the bargaining table.
Estimates vary, but Congress is expected to have until sometime in the summer to act on the debt ceiling, which limits how much money the Treasury can owe to cover the nation’s bills, or risk what experts warn could be an unprecedented default.
But there is great division in Washington over how to address the debt limit.
Democrats have been insistent on passing a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling. However, Republicans have fiercely opposed that approach, arguing any action lifting the roughly $31.4 trillion threshold must be paired with spending cuts or some kind of fiscal reform.