Finance

GOP senators cast doubt on spending clawback

Greg Nash

Key Republican Senators on Monday raised doubts that a rescission bill canceling some government spending would be able to pass the Senate.

“It is counter to the agreement that both houses and both parties and the administration reached, and to try to undo it after it’s just been signed into law strikes me as ill-advised,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), referring to a $1.3 trillion spending package passed with bipartisan support in late March.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Trump have been discussing ways to rescind funds from the spending deal, a process that was once common for narrow spending changes, but has seldom been used to railroad a negotiated, bipartisan agreement.

Collins, a moderate who has in the past bucked her party and the administration, said that reneging on promises made to Democrats “would make it very difficult” to strike future bipartisan deals. 

Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) brushed aside the idea that such a move would succeed. 

“This is all a bunch of window dressing, you know that. It’s all for show. As is the balanced budget amendment,” Corker said.  

The House this week is expected to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring the government to operate on a balanced budget. It is not expected to pass the high threshold needed to amend the nation’s founding document.  

“It just gives cover to people to keep doing the destructive things that we’re doing,” Corker said of the measures.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who is expected to take over the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also worried about damaging future relations with Democrats.

“If we agreed to something I want to keep my word,” he said, while keeping the door open to a more narrow rescission bill that didn’t flout the bipartisan spending measure.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) were careful in their comments, simply saying they wanted to see what kind of bill the House would produce. 

Other Republican Senators threw vocal support behind the measure.

“This entire appropriations process is just disgusting, and in some way, shape or form we’ve got to break out of it,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who favors changing the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for spending bills.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) also favored canceling spending.  

“I hope it gets legs. I’m embarrassed about the bill we passed,” he said.

When asked about how such a move would affect bipartisanship in the future, he responded: “That’s up to the Democrats. If the Democrats want to support waste and government, that’s their business. I don’t.” 

Tags Bob Corker Budget Donald Trump John Barrasso John Cornyn John Kennedy Kevin McCarthy omnibus Rescission Richard Shelby Ron Johnson Susan Collins

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