Aren’t we glad that we finally have single-party Republican governance in Washington DC? Now finally we can realize the GOP agenda, like repealing ObamaCare, revamping the tax system, and reducing the size of federal government. Right? Right?
An incipient push to reverse some of the $1.3 trillion in 2018 spending that Congress pushed through last month might already be dead, given early opposition from two key Republican senators who said Monday that they were unlikely to support the move.
Aides to President Trump are working with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to craft a “rescission” bill that would take advantage of special legislative procedures to roll back tens of billions of dollars in federal appropriations. …
Two Republican “cardinals” — powerful lawmakers who chair Senate Appropriations subcommittees — said Monday that they were perplexed by the talk of a rescission bill just weeks after the passage of the omnibus.
Rescission would give Republicans another shot at a reconciliation vehicle and an opportunity to roll back the massive $300 billion added to resolve a budget standoff. Congress does have authority to recall spending authorizations and recoup monies not yet spent, but using that authority is another matter. It only takes a simple majority in the House, and would require having 50 votes plus Mike Pence in the Senate.
How likely would that be, though? Even in the House, the upcoming election will make some Republicans queasy about defunding programs where their political opponents can find recipients to highlight in campaign ads. Republicans have a 23-seat majority and a higher number of tough elections in November. In the Senate, they have no margin at all for error, especially with the two “cardinals” balking at the maneuver. It probably won’t take three guesses to name Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski as the two cardinals mentioned, but they’re not the only skeptical Senate Republicans going on the record to push back on the idea, either, to which we’ll return at the end.
Besides, Collins raises a good point with the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis. Why get into that fight with a budget that’s (a) already approved, and (b) only has five-plus months left to run? “To me,” Collins argues, “the administration would be better advised to focus on this coming fiscal year.” That’d be true … if we had any confidence at all that the people who agreed to the spending levels in FY2018 and FY2019 will be willing to revisit those decisions for the latter budget. Plus, without rescission and reconciliation as vehicles for the effort, the supposedly fiscal-conservative GOP would have to get 60 votes in the Senate for any spending reductions. The likelihood of that is nil, and the “cardinals” know it.
Richard Shelby, who will likely become the chair of Appropriations, said that he wants to honor the deal in order to keep the GOP’s credibility with Democrats for the FY2019 negotiations. That’s not unimportant, but it’s just too bad that Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t have the same concern about keeping their credibility up with the voters who sent them to Washington based on their campaign promises.