By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

 

If Congress doesn’t approve the spending cuts in the “rescissions” package proposed Tuesday by President Trump, it will be a dereliction of duty and a display of political cowardice.

These spending cuts ought to be considered nearly child’s play, and they should be the least Congress can do to show tiny evidence of fiscal sanity amid an otherwise outrageous spending spree.

First, what exactly is a “rescission”? In federal budgetary parlance, it is the withdrawal of spending authority for funds already appropriated by law, but not yet actually spent by executive agencies.

For example, if Congress passes a law appropriating $12 billion a year for Agency X, payable in equal monthly installments, and the fiscal year is half finished, it means $6 billion of the $12 billion authority remains unspent. A new law to rescind that $6 billion, passed by Congress and signed by the president, would save the taxpayers that amount.

By federal law, there are two paths to rescinding appropriations. Trump has offered Congress the easier one.

In the hard version, Congress itself initiates the process. The rescissions bill in that case is subject to ordinary parliamentary rules, meaning a 41-vote minority of the 100-person Senate can kill it via a filibuster. Plus, it needs approval from a president who did not propose the cuts in the first place.

The easy version occurs when the president uses statutory authority to send a rescissions request to Congress. Under this scenario, both chambers of Congress can pass the cuts with bare majorities, without threat of a filibuster. Obviously, it is far easier to secure 51 votes than 60.

On Tuesday, Trump identified some $15 billion that (in most cases) is likely not to be spent anyway, and asked Congress to rescind those funds….

[For the full column, go here.]

 

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