How Republicans Could Redeem Themselves And Cut Omnibus Spending

The real beauty of the plan is that, unlike the earlier spending bill, it is not subject to a Democrat filibuster.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Trump signed in March has sparked a small revolt among the Republican faithful. The bill, which the president threatened to veto because it lacked funding for his wall project, was met with widespread derision from conservatives as a surrender to Democrats on government spending. Now, it looks as though there may be a way to fix the situation.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel put forth a proposal that Republicans use the 1974 Impoundment Act. The law allows the president to order the rescission of specific funds as long as the rescission is approved by Congress within 45 days.

The real beauty of the plan is that, unlike the earlier spending bill, it is not subject to a Democrat filibuster. Rescission requests only require a simple majority vote. With a 51-vote majority that includes several renegades, this may not be an easy task, but neither is it an insurmountable obstacle.

With the clock ticking, some Republicans appear to be taking the idea seriously. The Washington Post reported that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was working with the Trump Administration to implement the plan. The president may send a rescission request to Congress after the spring recess.

Also writing in the Wall Street Journal, James Freeman says that Speaker Paul Ryan, typically a deficit hawk, favors the approach. “Mr. Ryan,” Freeman says, “likes the idea of paring back the huge spending hikes in the recently enacted budget bill.”

Freeman also cites a “longtime Washington hand” who explained in an email that the impoundment plan advantages has other advantages in addition to avoiding filibusters. In the Senate, the motion in favor of the rescission is automatically ruled in order and given a fast track in front of other business. The motion is also limited one hour of debate.

There are advantages in the House as well. The bill would be fast-tracked and only one-fifth of House members could force a vote.

Perhaps most importantly, the impoundment plan would force moderate Republicans to take a stand. “Getting 50 Republican votes in the Senate will be made easier because they will be forced into an up-or-down vote—not the usual forest of complexity where they can hide in the tall grass,” Freeman's source wrote. “Ditto for House Republican appropriators.”

It isn't clear how much of the $1.3 trillion that Republicans would be able – or willing – to cut. Prime targets for cuts can be found in the Heritage Foundation's report on the omnibus. These include Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies and federal transportation spending increases.

While reductions to the spending bill would be a welcome start, discretionary spending is not the largest part of the federal budget. Most deficit spending is driven by entitlement spending, which is automatic and not subject to congressional appropriations.

So far, under President Trump the deficit has dramatically increased. The deficit for the first half of the 2018 fiscal year is $78 billion higher than at this point in 2017 when the annual deficit was at $666 billion. The 2016 deficit, the last year of the Obama Administration, was $587 billion.

Republicans would not be able to eliminate the deficit through the rescission process, but they could reduce it. Any cuts would be a morale booster for conservatives and would help Republicans to stave off a possible blue wave in November.

Comments
No. 1-9
etbass
etbass

The left doesn't have this problem because their check writers are among the most radical of the leftists. They are only limited in their leftward lurch by getting wiped out in elections. Their radical grassroots and the money interest are aligned politically. It is also what has driven out the blue collar union voters, New Deal Democrats and other types over to the GOP.

etbass
etbass

I think David misses the point. The GOP doesn't want to cut spending in any real fashion. It doesn't matter if they only need 50 votes, they don't have 50 votes. The filibuster is just a skirt for Mitch McConnell to hide behind. They slow an increase here or there, but they aren't serious about actually reducing any spending. If they were, they would have forced the Democrats to shut down the government to maintain it. Or eliminated the filibuster altogether. We know the Democrats will as soon as it inconveniences them. The nasty truth is that the GOP is controlled by the donor class. They are not fiscally conservative. They do not want spending cuts, so the GOP doesn't want spending cuts. It doesn't matter what the base of the party wants. We don't control the party, the people with the fat checkbooks do. Until we are willing to tell the GOP "no" at the voting booth, in large numbers on a consistent basis, they will continue to tell us "yes" and then do the exact opposite. They don't care because they know that you will vote for them anyway because Democrat X is always going to be worse. If the check writers want more spending, they deliver more spending. If they don't, the checks will dry up. You will keep voting for them anyway, so they don't care how mad you get. Even if it costs them the majority, as long as they don't personally get defeated, they don't care. It reduces the pressure and allows them to just grandstand and blame the Democrats. The checks keep coming all the same.

etbass
etbass

Or we could just see how they vote and see the GOP rubber stamp massive debt increase after massive debt increase. The GOP has had the House since 2011. The GOP has had the Senate since 2015. They have had the White House since 2017. None of the three groups, singularly or together have lowered spending. In the few reductions in increases that they made, they soon reversed. Now that the GOP controls both Houses and the Presidency, they passed a budget with a larger deficit than under the end of the Obama Administration. They can score them however they like in an effort to pee on me and tell me its raining. I will believe my own eyes. I see what they vote for and they are not fiscally conservative, not in the slightest. There are some individual exceptions, but the GOP is not fiscally conservative. At all.

NWRED
NWRED

As with many bills in this congress, to or three Republicans will cave.

MarkBerwind
MarkBerwind

I hope they do this, and not just talk about it.