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Alex Brandon / AP

One conservative group that will announce a set of demands for the debt ceiling is the House Freedom Caucus. Sources tell me Mark Meadows and his group of some 40 members will call on Republican leadership to pass a bill in July to deal with the debt ceiling and avoid a last-minute stand-off in October.

Our thought bubble: Democrats are very unlikely to support the Freedom Caucus' first plan, meaning there's no path to 60 votes in the Senate. Also, a number of Treasury officials, past and present, believe asset sales are not a viable way to avoid or delay raising the debt limit. As for the other more aggressive options, a source familiar with House leadership's thinking told me such approaches are unrealistic and "typical of the Freedom Caucus."

The Freedom Caucus will offer three options:

  1. The Lite (non-spending cut) option: a bill to change how the government pays its obligations so that there'd be no default, and more of the government can remain open in future fights over spending. The proposal would raise the debt ceiling by about $1.5 trillion. It would also restrict how much money the government can spend in the lead-up to the debt ceiling, and would direct the government to sell financial assets to pay down the debt. It would also, controversially, let the administration take back money agencies haven't spent, and use that money to pay down debt.
  2. The Budget option: If leadership rejects option 1, the Freedom Caucus will likely demand that they attach the debt ceiling hike to a 2018 Budget bill, in exchange for at least $250 billion in cuts to mandatory spending. "Which would certainly making budget negotiations much more difficult," a Freedom Caucus source adds.
  3. The health care option: try to attach the debt ceiling rise to a repeal-only health care bill. (This approach relies on the extremely unlikely scenario that Senate leader Mitch McConnell separates repeal and replace into two bills.)

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."