Facing backlash after passing a $1.3 trillion spending bill that funded all of the Democrats’ priorities, Republicans in the House of Representatives are working with President Trump to use an obscure budget law to roll back some of this egregious spending.
In the Washington Examiner, Joseph Lawler reports that President Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are strategizing to use the 1974 Impoundment Act to cut spending.
Congress could approve any spending revocations Trump proposes with a simple majority in both chambers. That allows Republicans more flexibility than in passing the spending bill, a process that was subject to a Democratic filibuster in the Senate and thus required negotiations with Democrats.
A congressional Republican aide said conservatives have been lobbying for Trump to use the Impoundment Act. “It’s a good opportunity to take advantage of a law passed decades ago and that hasn’t been used recently,” the aide said.
An administration official said rescissions are being discussed and that the White House is a few weeks away from developing a package of potential cuts.
The maneuver would effectively allow Trump and congressional Republicans to take back some agency spending that has been authorized as part of the omnibus spending bill, which was negotiated between Republican and Democratic leadership.
At this point, any conceivable cuts to government spending would be welcome. But there are a few caveats here that conservatives need to understand before congressional Republicans turn around and tell voters they are fiscally responsible.
First, while it’s likely a spending cuts package could pass through the House of Representatives, there is no guarantee that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can put all 51 votes in the Senate GOP conference together to move President Trump’s spending priorities through the Senate. When President Trump proposed a conservative budget last year, it was greeted as “dead on arrival” because RINO senators like Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., objected to cuts to their favorite pet programs. With just 49 voting Republicans against the 49 Democrats in the Senate because Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been absent due to illness and retiring Sen. Thad Cochran’s replacement has not been sworn in yet (that comes Monday), it only takes one liberal Republican to sink any spending cuts. There is more than one liberal Republican in the Senate.
Second, this strategy may wind up as just another show vote in Congress. The time to fight to cut government spending was before passing the largest spending increase in American history. The Republicans digging up this obscure 1974 law today couldn’t be bothered to fight for President Trump’s priorities in the weeks leading up to the omnibus. And the 2,232-page omnibus itself was introduced by GOP leadership less than two days before the government shutdown deadline, leaving representatives without time to read the bill. Elected officials were also barred from offering amendments that could cut spending. And if President Trump was serious about cutting spending, he should have vetoed the omnibus and told Congress to send him a bill that actually reflects what Republicans told voters they would do with their majorities.
Third, if Republicans actually find the votes to send something to President Trump’s desk, whatever they cut will, by necessity, be so miniscule and so uncontroversial in order to pass that ultimately it won’t matter, as the nation careens toward a fiscal crisis.
Republicans have already betrayed voters. It’s difficult to believe they’re acting in good faith without demonstrable proof that they’re willing to fight to keep their promises on spending.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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