White House sends $15.4 billion rescissions proposal to Congress

Congress reviewing $15.4 billion proposal to rescind "unobligated balances."

“The bottom line is it's $15.4 billion dollars. That's the bottom line,” Mulvaney said during a hallway interview at the Capitol. “If it passes it would be the largest rescissions savings in the history of the country. I'm very excited about the possibility of it passing.”

The proposal is requested under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, allowing rescissions to pass with simple majorities in the House and Senate. Initial House and Senate action must be completed within 45 days, not counting adjournments or recesses longer than three days.

“It cannot be used and is just sitting in an account,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said of the proposed rescissions. “Why would you let it sit there and waste and not give it back to the American public?”

A senior Democratic House Appropriations aide says that while Democrats have sometimes supported rescinding unobligated CHIP balances like these, they have always immediately reinvested that money in maternal and children’s health, Head Start, child care, biomedical research, or other educational/health services that help people. “This rescissions package would simply take this money off the table without doing anything to help anyone,” the aide noted.

"Cutting children’s health insurance without reinvesting in other vital health care programs will cause serious pain for American families," Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said. "Likewise, slashing investments in rural infrastructure, medical innovation, and community development robs the American people of opportunities for better jobs and better futures. Congress must reject this reckless proposal, which undoes years of careful bipartisan work."

Mulvaney contended Democrats are opposing the pitch “for reasons that make absolutely no sense.”

Mulvaney, a former House Republican from South Carolina, said additional rescissions targeting children’s health insurance, known as CHIP, are from a fund used to reimburse states – and the proposal doesn’t claw back any money authorized through the next decade.

“What HHS is telling us is they don't need nearly as much money as they have in that account now, so we can rescind it without affecting any program whatsoever,” Mulvaney said. “None of the CHIP programs that have just been reauthorized will be impacted in any way should this rescissions package pass.”