May 8 was a very busy day at the White House. While everyone was paying attention to the announcement about the Iran deal, the administration also announced a $15.4 billion rescission package. Republican leadership has hinted they will take a look at the package, but if they want to remain in the majority, they should do more than look at it, they should pass it.
Title X of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 is known as the Impoundment Control Act. The act divides impoundments into two categories and establishes distinct procedures for each. A deferral delays the use of funds; a rescission is a presidential request that Congress rescind or cancel an appropriation or another form of budget authority.
Rescissions are important because they only require a simple majority vote to pass in both in the House and the Senate. This solves the biggest problem in the Senate, the 60-vote rule. The rule that allows the Senate minority to block any bill, including funding bills, from advancing without getting 60 votes. A rescission only requires 51 votes to pass out of the Senate.
Out of the $15.4 billion, $7 billion comes from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The left and their cronies in the media are using this as a talking point to stop the rescissions, but as usual, ignored the details. The cuts are uncontroversial because the money comes from expired programs and unspent funds. $5 billion of the CHIP funds cannot be spent because there is no authorization to do so, and the other $2 billion comes from an account that is not expected to be used.
Tom Cole (R-Okla.), House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman stated, “It looks like most of it is stuff … that I don’t know why a Democrat would want to leave money in the CHIP program that we cannot spend, because the authorization’s run out. Again, if it’s things like that, that’s just sort of cleaning up the garden a little bit.”
The people complaining about this rescission more than likely voted for the most recent omnibus. That omnibus contained a similar CHIP rescission for the previous fiscal year. If the rescission was good enough in March, why is it improper in May?
One of the more aggravating rescissions is the $4.3 billion from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Manufacturing loan program. It is not aggravating because of the rescission; it is aggravating because money still goes to the program. The program has not generated a loan since 2011. In total, the program only handed out five total loans, one of the more infamous loans was to Fisker Automotive for an astronomical $529 million in 2010.
Fisker was another in a long line of “green” technology companies that got hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and failed in the Obama era. Fisker was a hybrid plug-in vehicle company that spent $600,000 to make the vehicle, then sold it to auto dealers for $70,000. Doesn’t take much to figure out the problem with the business model.
In total, the President proposed 38 rescissions, including:
A sneaky trick played by Congress is they fund programs that have no authorization or have expired. The money sits in the accounts until the next fiscal year, where Congress rescinds the funds and puts them into another program and appropriates new funds to the program it just pulled funds out of, and the cycle repeats itself.
This should be an easy lift for the GOP Congress, that is, if they can show an ounce of leadership. $15.4 billion is a miniscule amount of money when compared to the overall budget, but at least it is a start. If Republicans want to prove they are the party of fiscal responsibility they should move to have votes on the rescissions and force Democrats to vote on funding nonexistent programs. After the omnibus spending bill that disappointed many, passing the spending cuts could give the Republicans the much-needed boost they need going into the midterms.