Trump plan to cut $15B in spending squeaks through
WASHINGTON » The House on Thursday only narrowly passed a White House plan to cut almost $15 billion in unused government money, a closer-than- expected tally on legislation that’s designed to demonstrate fiscal discipline in Washington even though it wouldn’t have much of an impact on spiraling deficits.
The measure, which passed 210-206, would take a mostly symbolic whack at government spending because it would basically eliminate leftover funding that wouldn’t have been spent anyway. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces long odds.
The deficit is on track to exceed $800 billion this year despite a strong economy. Republicans controlling Congress are not attempting to pass a budget this year.
The package of so- called rescissions has been embraced by GOP conservatives upset by passage in March of a $1.3 trillion catchall spending bill that they say was too bloated. More pragmatic Republicans on Capitol Hill’s powerful Appropriations panels aren’t keen on the measure since it would eliminate accounting moves they routinely use to pay for spending elsewhere.
The measure includes $4 billion in cuts to a defunct loan program designed to boost fuel- efficient, advanced-technology vehicles, rescissions of various agriculture grant programs, and cuts to conservation programs at the Department of Agricul- ture, among others.
While Democrats blasted the cuts, the real objection to some of them, such as $7 billion from popular Children’s Health Insurance Program funding, is that it would take that money off the table so it couldn’t be used later as it was in the earlier spending bill. The CHIP cuts wouldn’t affect enrollment in the program, which provides health care to children from low-income families that don’t qualify for Medicaid.
“Targeting CHIP for a rescission prevents Congress from reinvesting in other priorities like child and maternal health, early childhood education, biomedical research and our community health centers,” said New York Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
Some GOP moderates also worry that they’re casting a difficult-to- explain vote to cut CHIP funding in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.
“I don’t think the vote’s intended for people in swing districts,” said Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa. Nineteen Republicans, mostly moderates, opposed the bill. No Democrats voted for it.
President Donald Trump is the first President to employ the so- called rescissions tool since the Clinton administration. The obscure process is one of the few ways around the Senate filibuster, though other parliamentary problems could await in that chamber — even if resistance from moderates and Republicans on the Appropriations Committee can be overcome.