Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending
The Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected President Trump’s plan to claw back roughly $15 billion in spending approved by Congress earlier this year.
In a 48-50 vote, senators failed to discharge the measure from committee. A majority vote was needed.
GOP Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Susan Collins (Maine) joined 48 members of the Democratic caucus in voting against bringing up the bill.
“My belief … is that it’s the job of Congress to comb through these accounts and that’s what we do on the appropriations committee,” Collins said.
A Burr aide said the North Carolina senator voted “no” on moving forward with the package because he couldn’t get a promise that his amendment addressing cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund would receive a vote.
The vote is a blow to conservatives and the White House, who pushed the package in response to backlash from the GOP base over a mammoth rescissions package passed in March.
White House Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney said the measure’s failure was “disappointing.”
“The American people should be asking their representatives in Washington one simple question: If they cannot pass good-government legislation to recapture unnecessary funds, how can we ever expect them to address Washington’s staggering debt and deficit problem?” Mulvaney said.
But it was also controversial, with Democrats and some Republicans warning it ceded some of Congress’s spending authority to the White House.
Congress had until Friday to pass the rescissions package, which passed the House last week, by a simple majority. Normally, because of Senate rules, spending bills must get 60 votes.
The White House first proposed the rescissions package in May, but revised its request earlier this month. The revised measure dropped the amount of spending expected to be clawed back from roughly $15.4 billion to approximately $14.7 billion.
The revision stripped out provisions targeting federal highway funding after a Government Accountability Office analysis warned it may not legally be eligible for rescissions. A growing Ebola outbreak in Congo also led the White House to remove provisions slashing emergency funds to combat Ebola.
But critics of the plan have seized on the fact that approximately half of the spending, $7 billion, comes from two accounts in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The administration, backed up by an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, says the rescissions would not impact CHIP spending over the next decade but that’s done little to stem criticism over its inclusion.
Updated at 2:52 p.m.
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