GAO approves freezing funds for most of Trump's $15 billion clawback

GAO approves freezing funds for most of Trump's $15 billion clawback
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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Tuesday approved the Trump administration’s move to freeze the vast majority of funds in its proposal to claw back over $15 billion in spending authority.

In a report, the GAO concluded that the administration could freeze funds on most of the provisions it had proposed, including two controversial funds in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In such requests, the administration is typically allowed to freeze funds during the 45-day period allotted for Congress to approve the rescissions in a fast-track process. 

 

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The GAO report did, however, call attention to two provisions that sought to pull a combined $134 million from the Highway Trust Fund at the Department of Transportation, saying “these funds may not be withheld from obligation pending congressional consideration of the rescission proposal.” 

The funds will still be eligible for rescission, however, if Congress moves forward with the process. 

The administration has argued, with backing from the Congressional Budget Office, that the funds in question were either unobligated or unlikely to be spent, and that the move would not affect children’s health spending or delivery.

Democrats have hammered the administration for targeting funds in the children’s program, making some Republicans wary of the political costs ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Congress has until June 22 to act on the rescission request. If it fails to act, the frozen funds will once again be available for use.

This story was updated and corrected at 2:36 p.m. to reflect that the GAO has the power to approve the freezing of funds while Congress considers recessions in the 45-day fast-track process.