Democrats decry Trump plan to cut $15B in unused funds

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are criticizing Republicans for rushing to vote on President Donald Trump's plan to roll back $15 billion in previously approved spending for children's health insurance and other programs.

GOP leaders say lawmakers could vote as soon as next week on the plan to "rescind" funding leftover from previous years. The cuts would not affect the $1.3 trillion catchall spending bill approved in March, but would take away leftover money that could be used for a range of budget priorities.

Nearly half the proposed cuts, $7 billion, target the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, though the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this week that the proposed cuts would not affect the number of children covered by the program.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday the proposed cuts "will impose serious hardship on American children and families."

She and New York Rep. Nita Lowey, senior Democrat on the House Appropriations panel, urged GOP leaders to delay a vote until after the Government Accountability Office reviews the proposal.

"It is unacceptable for Republicans to continue their practice of ramming bills through the House in order to escape public scrutiny," Pelosi and Lowey wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

"A rushed process deprives both the House and the American people of the opportunity to understand the true impacts of the rescission legislation," they added, using a term that describes the practice of trimming back previously allocated funding. So-called rescissions used to be common in Washington, but have not been used since the Clinton administration.

The White House and tea party lawmakers upset by the budget-busting "omnibus" bill have rallied around the rescission plan, aiming to show that Republicans are taking on out-of-control spending.

The plan is expected to pass the Republican-controlled House but faces more resistance in the narrowly divided Senate.

If approved, the tactic would only have a tiny impact on the government's budget deficit, which is on track to total more than $800 billion this year. Some of the cuts wouldn't affect the deficit at all since budget scorekeepers don't give credit for rescinded money that they don't think would have ever been spent, and the White House calculates the cuts would only curb the deficit by $3 billion.

Ryan's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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