Trump Sends First Presidential ‘Rescission’ Proposal to Congress in 20 Years

Trump, Omnibus Bill
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Washington, DC

President Donald Trump sent Congress a proposal on Tuesday to rescind $15 billion in federal spending, not including omnibus spending – the largest rescission request in American history and the first since Bill Clinton was president.

Senior administration officials briefing reporters late Monday emphasized that the $15 billion to be rescinded includes unobligated balances, primarily those that will not have an effect on current programs as the legal authority to spend those funds has passed.

Congress will have 45 days to act on the package by passing a bill, according to the officials. They expect the package to quickly pass the House and that they will begin conversations in the Senate once that is accomplished. One of the significant benefits of this process is that it bypasses any filibuster in the Senate.

“Democratic and Republican Presidents have used the ICA to propose nearly $76 billion in spending cuts since the law was enacted,” read a portion of a Tuesday White House release on the rescission package. Presidents from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton have used the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) to rescind federal funds to the tune of $76 billion. 

Nearly one-third of the cuts, $4.3 billion of the $15 billion, come from the Advance Technology Vehicle Loan Program – a program which hasn’t made a loan since 2011. Another $523 million comes from the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program. The authority to make new loan guarantees under this program lapsed in 2011.

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola epidemic over in 2016. However, $252 million in excess of 2015 Ebola response funds remain. The package includes rescission of these funds.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has $800 million in funding beyond what is needed for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and is set to receive another $10 billion in appropriations for 2020. The $800 million is being included in the rescission package.

While some have framed the $7 billion in proposed rescissions from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as if it would cut funds that are slated to be used, according to the administration officials, the CHIP rescissions would come from two accounts. One at about $5 billion where there is no authority to spend the money under the law. The authority to spend these funds lapsed in 2017. Funds in the other account valued at just under $2 billion are part of an additional allotment to states, and the officials said they don’t expect any states to be eligible for these funds. 

The officials were clear that the $7 billion in CHIP funds to be rescinded would have zero program impact. They added that Congress has done similar rescissions for unobligated CHIP money. 

A recission of $133 million comes from the Railroad Unemployment insurance Extended Benefits program. The program expired over five years ago, in 2012. Another $148 million would come from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This includes funds allocated to disease incidents that have since been resolved. 

Also included are funds for emergency watershed from hurricane Sandy. Officials said these funds will have no impact, as they will not be used anyway because local project sponsors could not pay their share to get the money out the door.

The only thing the rescinded funds will be used for is to offset future spending, according to the administration officials.

The administration expects to get bipartisan support for the rescission package. Officials cited Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has previously voted for rescissions. Conversations continue between Office of Management and Budget Dir. Mick Mulvaney and lawmaker, and officials were adamant that there should be no reason for Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie in the Senate.

“This is the president’s proposal,” said one official, the package he is “comfortable” with. There were other items in the omnibus with which the President wasn’t comfortable.

Officials were adamant that they are focused on this package before moving on to a second large revisions package that addresses ineffective items in the omnibus. One did suggest that the second package would come within 2018. The official said the administration wants to make sure the “muscle memory” of Congress is intact with this first package before moving on to what will be a similarly “historic” package involving the omnibus.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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