The Administration has sent up their package of rescissions totaling approximately $15 billion. The proposal, which must be acted on by appropriations committees to become effective, largely targets funds that have not yet spent. The biggest piece is CHIP reserve funds of approximately $7 billion. The funds are there in reserve in part to offset any increases in CHIP use if states experience bigger enrollments. It would not affect CHIP families now, but some critics say the reserve is important to protect future CHIP coverage. Despite the proposed cuts to unused funds, the Administration is getting some blowback on the various reductions.
While that debate was taking place, there were mixed signals on FY 2019 spending. House leaders were sending signals that they would seek cuts under the Labor-HHS-Education spending caps. The House is holding the Labor-HHS bill for last of the twelve bills and, as they have done in recent years, they are giving other areas big increases while seeking reductions or freezes for the Labor-HHS bill. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK.) indicated last week that the bill will likely reflect a reduction from current funding. Although domestic spending does get an increase from last year’s budget deal, domestic spending includes the military-like spending for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and with a $4.2 billion increase.
On the Senate side, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chair of the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee, was sounding negative about the possibility of cuts to his Committee’s funding. Like his Chairman, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), his has sounded more positive about moving appropriations along the lines of the February budget deal with increases spread out.