Current and former administration officials and others close to the White House have indicated the Trump Administration will propose cutting up to $60 billion from the FY18 funding bill passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by the president in March. Members of Congress from both parties have weighed in against the proposal (see Memo, 4/9), while some other House GOP members have advocated for it. The current omnibus spending package included a 10% increase for vital HUD programs.
The White House is expected to present around May 1 the proposal to claw back anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion from the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Congress would then have 45 days to pass a law codifying the cuts, known as rescissions; if they do not, the current funding law remains in effect. The administration has given no indication yet about which accounts it will propose to cut, but they are likely to be non-defense discretionary programs like those administered by HUD.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chair of the Transportation and HUD Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, opposed the idea, stating, “We need to get on with this year’s appropriations process, not reopen last year’s.” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also rejected the proposition, saying, “It’s not a perfect package. Nothing is. But as individual appropriators, I know we all worked hard on our accounts and tried to get the priorities we could.” Senate Republicans would need the support of Senators Collins and Murkowski and several others to pass a rescission bill since Democrats are unified in their opposition.
Before attending a meeting with Mr. Trump the week of April 8, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the new chair of the Appropriations Committee, expressed opposition to the proposal to rescind funds included in the omnibus. “We need to look at what we agreed on with the other side and keep our word, keep our agreements," he said. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, agreed. “My attitude is, your word is your bond,” he said. Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) said the idea is “unrealistic and dangerous.” On the other hand, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is vying to become the next speaker of the House when Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) relinquishes the post and retires from Congress, is said to be working with the White House on the rescission proposal.