Colorado Republicans Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck will vote no on debt ceiling bill

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Colorado U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert at a press conference Tuesday, May 30, 2023, announcing her opposition to the compromise debt ceiling and budget legislation worked out by House Republican leaders and the Biden White House.

GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is joining about a dozen other House Freedom Caucus members in calling on House Republicans to reject a deal that lifts the debt ceiling and avoids default.

The compromise deal worked out between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden over the weekend would suspend the debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025, while holding non-defense spending for fiscal year 2024 to just under current levels and raising it by 1 percent in fiscal year 2025.

But for many hard-right lawmakers, it doesn’t do enough.

“It’s more Washington gimmicks from the swamp that kicks the proverbial can down the road,” Boebert said at a press conference Tuesday, noting that many conservative priorities were not included in the deal, such as clawing back the full $80 billion in new funding for the IRS and enforceable budget caps for the next decade. “In short, tomorrow’s bill is a bunch of fake news and fake talking points that will do nothing to rein in out-of-control federal spending.”

She, like many of her Freedom Caucus colleagues, are encouraging their fellow Republicans to vote against the bill when it comes up for a vote Wednesday evening.

Congressman Ken Buck also came out against the bill this weekend, saying “It’s time for Republicans to get serious about the reckless government spending. This ‘deal’ codifies pandemic-level discretionary spending instead of returning to a pre-COVID spending number. That level of government spending should’ve been the rare exception, not the rule.”

Buck has never voted to lift the debt ceiling, a track record that includes voting against House Republicans’ debt ceiling measure in April. His office says Buck is “focused on finding a debt ceiling solution that doesn’t give Democrats a blank check to add trillions of dollars to the debt in the next two years.”

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn has not commented on the deal, but the Colorado Republican Party sent an email to supporters, urging them to call the El Paso County congressman and tell him to vote against the bill.

“The Colorado Republican Party asks that Congressman Lamborn shows a unified front with Ken Buck and Lauren Boebert by voting NO on this deal that grows America's unsustainable debt,” said state GOP Chair Dave Williams, who primaried Lamborn in 2022.

Republican House leaders described the bill as full of wins.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act does what is responsible for our children, what is possible in divided government, and what is required by our principles and promises. Only because of Republicans’ resolve did we achieve this transformative change to how Washington operates,” said the leadership team in a statement.

The agreement limits non-defense spending to $704 billion in FY24 and $711 billion in FY25, while defense spending would be $886 billion in ‘24 and $895 billion in ‘25. If no budget is passed, then any continuing resolution to keep government running would see a one percent reduction. The agreement also eliminates $1.4 billion in IRS funding, while shifting another $20 billion in IRS funding to other non-defense areas.

And some Republicans pointed out the agreement has things, like additional work requirements for some SNAP and TANF recipients, that the party couldn’t get across the finish line before, even under a Republican controlled-Congress with a Republican president. Others acknowledged that even hard-won victories can prove ephemeral; spending caps agreed to under a 2011 debt ceiling deal went away after a couple of years, with Republican support.

Still, those arguments haven’t swayed House Freedom Caucus members. Boebert, who voted to lift the debt ceiling via the Republican plan last month, said the House did its job, while the Senate didn’t pass a bill. And she added a true compromise bill would, in her view, increase “the debt ceiling with a number, not just a date, not unlimited and having substantial cuts and policy reform and we don’t have that here.”

An example she pointed to was the narrow permitting reform in the deal, intended to speed up environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). While permitting reform has been a priority for Republicans, she described this change as a shell game.  

“Because we still have all the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) Green New Deal subsidies that are going to be funded and so all of that NEPA reforming, all that does is expedite the Green New Deal,” she said. “So a good negotiating point is to do those things that actually help America and even get the southern border security.”

But while other House Freedom Caucus members hinted at potentially trying to remove McCarthy as Speaker if he doesn’t listen to their demands, Boebert dismissed the question, saying she’s focused on taking down this bill.