This week, the Senate is expected to vote on S. 2979, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). This package would rescind approximately $15 billion of previously appropriated but unspent funds, a good first step towards cutting federal spending. All Senators should vote for this legislation.
Since the passage of the 1974 Budget Control and Impoundment Act, presidents have proposed 1,174 rescissions totaling $76 billion. Every president from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton successfully rescinded funds, but there has not been a rescissions package since Congress passed Bill Clinton’s proposal in FY 2000.
The unanimous Democrat opposition to the Trump rescissions package is confusing since Clinton’s rescissions packages passed Congress with bipartisan support. The House already passed President Trump’s rescissions package last week, and the Senate should follow suit.
Congress routinely claws back unspent funds and returns the money to taxpayers. While Democrats are trying to demagogue Trump’s proposal, which includes $5 billion in rescinded CHIP funding in this rescissions package, Democrats have often proposed similar rescissions. Just two months ago, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi voted to rescind $6.8 billion from CHIP. Just two years ago, Democrats offered their own amendment to rescind $5.7 billion from CHIP, and every Democrat on the Appropriations Committee voted for it.
Trump’s nearly $15 billion rescissions package is the largest in history. Some of the proposed rescissions are listed below:
- $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program
- $5 billion from Children Health Insurance Fund and $1.8 billion from the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund. The funds rescinded from this program either cannot be spent because the authority to obligate the funding ended last year or is not needed to operate the program. The nonpartisan CBO confirmed that this rescission would not affect the program, and no children will lose health insurance as a result of this rescission.
- $800 million from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations
- $356 million in unobligated balances of conservation programs that were not extended in the Agricultural Act of 2014, and $144 million in unobligated balances of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program. These funds are in excess of the amounts needed to sustain the programs in FY 2018.
- $142 million from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. This rescission allows the private sector and local governments to play a greater role in addressing affordable housing needs.
- $523 million from the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program
- $500 million from the Farm Security and Rural Investment Programs
- $50 million in prior year balances from the Department of Agriculture’s Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. These funds are in excess of the amounts needed to sustain the programs in FY 2018.