Democrats cry foul as GOP eyes move to cancel spending

Democrats are lashing out at the notion that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump warns Iran's Rouhani: Threaten us 'and you will suffer' Pompeo: Iran's leaders resemble the mafia NYT's Haberman: Trump 'often tells the truth' MORE and GOP leaders may seek to eliminate some of the funding increases in the enormous 2018 spending package adopted less than two weeks ago. 

Republicans have come under fire in their districts during the spring recess after supporting the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill, which provides a huge bump in both defense and domestic spending, adding hundreds of billions of dollars to federal deficits. In response, Trump and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse leaders clash over resolution backing ICE House backs resolution expressing support for ICE House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE MORE (R-Calif.) are reportedly in talks to tap an obscure provision of a decades-old budget law to prune some of the spending increases from the package.

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Democrats, who supported the omnibus only after receiving funds for their domestic priorities, said any GOP effort to make after-the-fact changes would be a major betrayal.

“It would completely poison the well to the idea that there can be responsible bipartisan compromise,” said Matthew Dennis, a spokesman for Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyClash looms over ICE funding Senate chairman urges move to two-year budgetary process Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems see midterm advantage in new ObamaCare fight MORE (N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. The Republicans, Dennis added, are trying “to renege on elements that were critical to passage of the omnibus.” 

“It’s a bill that was signed into law with Democratic and Republican votes and with the signature of the president. And they apparently didn’t like the way it played in the media afterwards, so now they’re going to try to call for a do-over,” he said. 

“That’s just not how it works.”

Signed by Trump late last month, the omnibus package provided a $143 billion increase over previous spending caps — $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for nondefense domestic programs. Yet budget watchdogs estimate the hikes are much higher. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reported that additional off-tab funding would result in $251 billion spent above the previous limits.  

Conservative fiscal hawks are incredulous that Republican leaders — who spent years bashing President Obama for “dangerous” deficits — would reverse course and champion billions of dollars in new unfunded spending now that they control all levels of power in Washington. Ninety House Republicans voted against the omnibus last month, largely to protest the spending hikes, with many grumbling that GOP leaders had become “hypocrites” when it comes to tackling the nation’s debt.  

Trump and McCarthy are reportedly in talks to appease those critics by leaning on a part of a 1974 law, the Congressional Budget and Impound Control Act, which allows the administration to propose a revocation of certain funds. Congress would then have 45 days to either consider the proposed rescissions or ignore them. The Associated Press first reported the story Tuesday. 

It’s unclear if the idea is gaining steam in the GOP conference, or even if other Republican leaders outside of McCarthy, who has increasingly aligned himself with Trump, are on board. The offices of both McCarthy and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (R-Wis.) did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.  

Democrats have not been so silent. Mariel Saez, a spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDem leaders fend off calls to impeach Trump Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia House leaders clash over resolution backing ICE MORE (D-Md.), said the Republicans are pursuing a “political stunt to appease their base just weeks after they touted the bill as an important compromise.”  

“If they propose to cut important funding for early childhood education, the opioid crisis, infrastructure, public safety, and other domestic priorities, then they can expect strong Democratic opposition,” Saez said in an email.

The omnibus rescissions are not the only effort Republicans are considering to temper the fallout from the ballooning deficit spending under their watch. The House this month is expected to vote on a balanced budget amendment (BBA), a constitutional change requiring Congress to eliminate deficit spending altogether. The measure has no chance of becoming law, but will lend vulnerable Republicans a talking point as they head into a tough election cycle facing conservative voters up in arms over skyrocketing deficits. 

Democrats have been quick to hammer that push as well, noting that the Republicans’ tax overhaul, adopted in December, is projected to add more than $1 trillion to deficits even taking into consideration its effects on economic growth.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Overnight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog won’t drop Pruitt probes | Exxon leaves conservative advocacy group | Lawmakers offer changes to Endangered Species Act MORE (D-Va.) characterized the BBA vote as “the height of chutzpah.” 

“You just voted to add $1.5 trillion, at least — maybe $2 trillion — to the debt with the tax-cut bill, and now sanctimoniously you come back saying, ‘We’ve got to rein in the debt?’” Connolly told The Hill this week. “We’re all high school graduates here. We can kind of see that for what it is.

“I don’t think they’re going to fool the voters at all with that kind of tactic.”