What to Know in Washington: Scott Perry Helps Shape Debt Debate

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A squad of reporters followed Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) as he left Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office last week, aiming to take the temperature of a key leader in the high-stakes standoff over the debt ceiling.

Perry parried the questions about negotiations, and instead offered the bottom line for himself and the hard-right Freedom Caucus: “We want to save as much as we can, and spend as little as we can and keep this whole operation running.”

As President Joe Biden and McCarthy (R-Calif.) meet today to continue debt limit talks, the spotlight on Perry as the influential group’s chair marks a sharp ascent for a congressman who has often been on the political fringes.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep Scott Perry (R-Pa.) talks about the debt limit during a news conference on March 22.

His rise, and his hand helping shape conservative priorities in the Republican debt plan, reflects how the GOP has shifted rightward over the past decade, and how McCarthy has had to navigate his narrow majority by opening doors to all corners of his party. McCarthy has brought the rebellious faction into the fold, rather than trying to marginalize them.

Perry’s prominence also underscores how few consequences have followed for lawmakers who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. He was one of former President Donald Trump’s most vigorous allies in spreading false claims and attempting to disenfranchise voters. Now he wields more power than ever.

Perry and his caucus are being closely monitored for how they react to any compromise between McCarthy and Biden, with Washington wondering whether they’ll try to sink a forthcoming deal, or unseat the precariously positioned speaker. Jonathan Tamari outlines what’s at stake.

BGOV Webinar — The Debt Limit: Outlook, Concerns, and Strategies: On Thursday, join BGOV’s experts for a discussion about the debt limit crisis and how organizations can prepare for possible disruptions. BGOV’s reporters and analysts will dive into possible outcomes and how they could affect strategies, budgets, government programs, and federal contracting. Register here.


  • The House returns today with votes planned this week targeting fentanyl and Biden administration regulations.
  • Senators are on recess this week.


  • Biden is back from the G-7 summit in Japan and plans to meet with McCarthy to discuss the debt limit deal.

Deal on the Debt

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What Else We’re Reading

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To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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