In early May, President Donald Trump submitted a rescission request to Congress to roll back more than $15 billion in spending.
The House initially seemed poised to pass the package before Congress’s Memorial Day recess, but now, CQ reports that consideration of the package will be delayed until at least June.
Congress has less than a month to take up the rescissions package before the president’s request expires. Putting it off is a mistake. This request represents the very least Congress can do to try to pare back spending and return to some semblance of fiscal restraint.
Congress should take up the president’s rescission request this week and then work with him on additional requests that target the tens of billions of dollars in inappropriate discretionary spending increases, included in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill.
House leadership indicates that the delay is due to a lack of available floor time, but a more likely cause is that there are not enough votes to pass the rescission request. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have balked at the idea that the request would take back funding from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Ebola response, among others.
Despite the rhetoric, the rescissions package would have no impact on current CHIP funding. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said so itself. The $7 billion in proposed CHIP rescissions were authorized for 2017 only and Congress no longer has legal authority to spend those funds.
The real reason that some members of Congress don’t want to rescind the CHIP funding has nothing to do with the well-being of children—the CHIP funds under consideration are often never fully spent. Instead, Congress often rescinds these funds themselves through annual appropriations bills and then uses these phantom savings to pay for unrelated discretionary spending.
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