Trump proposes clawing back $15 billion in federal spending, hits children's insurance

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President Donald Trump spoke at the NRA’s annual convention in Dallas Friday, telling supporters the Second Amendment will “never be under siege” as long as he is president. (May 4)
AP

WASHINGTON — President Trump will propose canceling $15 billion in federal spending on Tuesday, relying on a rarely used budget maneuver to ease deficit concerns raised by conservative Republicans.

Nearly half of those cuts — $7 billion — would come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a safety-net program for low-income families that has enjoyed bipartisan support. White House officials said Monday the reductions would not have an impact on the program, which has an enrollment of roughly 9 million.

The Trump administration has been working for weeks with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on the “rescission” package, which would claw back billions Congress set aside but that federal agencies never spent. 

Describing the package as the single-largest rescission proposal in U.S. history, a White House official said Monday that more than 30 programs would be cut overall if Congress approves the measure. The cuts also include a $4 billion reduction in a loan program intended to improve vehicle technology that officials said has not been used since 2011.

The official said the proposal recommends clawing back $107 million from a “technical assistance” fund in the Hurricane Sandy recovery package approved by Congress in 2013, more than $250 million in unspent money from the Ebola virus outbreak as well as unspent funds for Medicare and Medicaid pilot programs in the Affordable Care Act. 

“We’ll look at it and see,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “If it’s frivolous stuff that we can get rid of and save the taxpayer money, we ought to do it.”

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said he would support “pretty much any rescission that comes up to save the taxpayers money.”

Democrats lashed out at the proposal. 

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“These Republican rescissions show the hypocrisy of a GOP Congress that insists on tight budgets for children and families while handing enormous, unpaid-for giveaways to corporations and the wealthiest,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Rep. Frank Pallone said the administration was trying to renege on a deal to have parity between domestic and military spending increases by seeking cuts only on the domestic side of the budget. 

“I mean, we’re going to build more bombs but now we’re going to cut health care for kids,” said Pallone, D-N.J. “That says a lot about Republican values.”

The proposal comes weeks after members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus balked at a $1.3 trillion government funding bill Trump signed in March. The president also criticized the bill, which he said he decided to sign because of spending increases for the military.

A 1974 law gives the president power to send a list rescissions to Congress, which can bypass procedural speed bumps as it considers the measure. President Clinton was the last president to submit a rescission request, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last month he was open to considering the request, but Republicans on the House and Senate appropriations committees have been wary of going back on a deal they negotiated with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

White House officials stressed Monday that none of the money in the proposal comes from the recent spending deal, but they did not rule out that future rescission packages may draw from that legislation. The officials described the proposal this week as an initial round, but declined to offer details about subsequent requests.  

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