White House calls conservative GOP group’s budget proposal a ‘five-alarm fire’

President Biden
Annabelle Gordon
President Biden gives remarks at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon in the Capitol on Friday, March 17, 2023

The White House on Monday called the House Freedom Caucus’s budget proposal a ‘five-alarm fire,’ arguing that its spending cuts would endanger Americans’ safety.

The White House referred to the conservative GOP group as the “extreme MAGA Republican House Freedom Caucus” in a statement and said the proposal would be “a disaster for families in at least five key ways.”

The key ways, according to the White House, include endangering public safety; raising costs for families; shipping manufacturing jobs overseas and undermining American workers; weakening national security; and hurting seniors.

The statement argued that the proposal would make the border less secure because it would eliminate funding for more than 2,000 border agents and allow for “an additional 150,000 pounds of cocaine, nearly 900 pounds of fentanyl, nearly 2,000 pounds of heroin, and more than 17,000 pounds of methamphetamine into our country.” 

Biden’s budget included funds to hire an additional 350 Border Patrol Agents, $535 million for border technology at and between ports of entry, and $40 million to combat fentanyl trafficking.

And, the White House argued the Freedom Caucus proposal would defund the police and make communities less safe because it would eliminate 400 local law enforcement positions and could mean a hiring freeze at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

The White House also said the proposal would scale back rail safety inspections, especially in the wake of the train derailments in Ohio that led to a politically charged situation over President Biden not visiting the site. The statement claims the proposal would lead to 11,000 fewer rail safety inspection days next year alone and 30,000 fewer miles of track inspected annually.

And, it said the proposal would jeopardize air safety and increase airport security wait times by an average of 30 minutes because it would shut down services at 125 air traffic control towers across the country. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week said there have been “more mistakes than usual” in U.S. air travel after dozens of close calls, calling for the industry to figure out the causes.

The Freedom Caucus has said it wants to cap overall discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels for 10 years while allowing for 1 percent growth per year, which would be a $131 billion cut from current levels.

Citing the Congressional Budget Office, the White House said on Monday that Republicans would need to eliminate everything in the rest of the federal budget if they want to balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes on the wealthy or corporations and without cutting Social Security, Medicare, defense and some veterans’ benefits.

The White House has been using the Freedom Caucus as a foil as Biden prepares to launch his reelection bid, seeking to cast the group as the face of the GOP.

Biden released his budget on March 9 and the next day he went after the House Freedom Caucus during remarks, saying there isn’t much to negotiate with the conservative group after it released its new spending demands. 

He argued that the Freedom Caucus’s demands include cutting all spending other than defense by 25 percent, which is a characterization the group later disputed.

Tags border security Freedom Caucus Joe Biden White House

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