President Trump and Republican Congressional leaders are considering using a budget rescissions process to rollback some of the funding that was approved in the FY18 omnibus spending bill. However, reaction to this proposal has been tepid among some Republicans. They are looking to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) for guidance, but the Speaker has not made any public comments on the proposal.
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 provides an expedited process for the President to propose and Congress to review a rescissions package identifying appropriations that the administration does not want to spend. The President must first submit a message to Congress specifying the amount of funds they want to rescind from which accounts and programs along with estimated fiscal and program effects and the reasons for the rescission. Congress would then have 45 legislative days to approve all or part of the President’s request. A rescissions package could pass the Senate with a simple majority vote.
After signing the FY18 omnibus, President Trump called on Congress to give him line-item veto authority on spending bills. The Supreme Court has declared the line item veto unconstitutional. This rescissions process could be a way around that, but he would need Congressional approval.
Republicans hold a slim 50-49 majority in the Senate, which will be 51-49 when Cindy Hyde-Smith is sworn in on Monday. With Sen. McCain (R-AZ) not voting, they can’t lose any Republicans in order to pass a rescissions package. And they may be reluctant to open up that can of worms given the effect it would have on negotiating future bipartisan spending deals.