Freedom Caucus urges GOP to reject government funding deal without border reforms

The hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus and its allies are urging colleagues to reject a forthcoming government funding package being crafted by congressional leaders, warning a vote for the legislation is a vote for the Biden administration’s “open border” policies.

Forty-one Republicans signed onto a letter, led by Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), that came just days before Friday’s shutdown deadline.

“At some point, border security has to be more than something aspirational that we simply message on,” the letter said. “Is there a point at which we will refuse to let this happen on our watch, or is there no threshold of harm to our nation for which we would refuse to fund the government perpetrating the invasion?”

“The next government appropriations package funds multiple avenues Biden exploits to release millions into America,” they said. “From [the Department of Homeland Security’s] abuse of laws to ‘release’ under parole and asylum, to the United Nations and [nongovernmental organizations] facilitating the trafficking of humans — the abuse can be checked, if the House of Representatives exercises its constitutional duty.”

The caucus called for the GOP-led House to instead bring up an appropriations measure “​​that forces the inclusion of the core elements” of its flagship border bill, known as H.R. 2.

“Of course, the fact that the funding package includes defense spending means many will rationalize a ‘yes’ vote ‘for the troops.’ Even setting aside the border, the power of the purse should also be used to stop the radical politicization of the Department of Defense,” they wrote.

The letter comes as a bipartisan deal to fund swaths of the government — including the departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and State, along with the Internal Revenue Service and general government and foreign operations — and avert a shutdown later this week has been held up due to disagreements over the DHS bill.

Leaders initially indicated they would release text of the package Sunday, planning for a full-year stopgap measure for DHS. But that timeline slipped because of deep partisan divisions over border and immigration. Lawmakers say the remaining five bills are largely settled.

Pressed about negotiations Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that DHS needs a bill that adequately funds “operational pace.”

But there is much uncertainty around what the expected full-year funding plan for DHS will look like amid ongoing spending talks, particularly as the White House has become involved in discussions.

“That is what the administration is fighting for. [They] want to make sure that they have the operational funding to do the job that they need to be doing,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that the DHS has “done the work to do what they can at the funding levels that they currently are operating in.”

“And we want to do everything that we can to make sure that they have that operational pace,” she said, adding that the administration believes “that DHS needs additional funding” to deal with the “security operations and much more that they’re dealing with at the border, obviously, and just more broadly all the work that the DHS has to do.”

A source familiar with the matter also said Sunday part of the dispute is that Democrats are pressing for more funding for pay equity at the Transportation Security Administration, while Republicans want more dollars for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and enforcement efforts.

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