Congress is behind on dealing with FY 2019 appropriations but before moving on those 12 bills, they may take a shot at cutting back on FY 2018. There were reports that Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the number two leader in the House, has had discussions with the Administration on using the President’s rescission authority to try and cut the just-approved FY 2018 budget. The proposed cuts could be as high as $30 billion. Whether the attempt is real will likely be flushed out this week. Much of the talk is political and at least in part motivated by some member anger at the last appropriations. Some conservatives are clamoring for going back and cutting what was negotiated by the four key leaders (Ryan, McConnell, Schumer and Pelosi). Part of the likely politics is that Congressman McCarthy, who would likely be a candidate for House Speaker, if Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) steps down or decides not to run for reelection, may have been surprised by some talk in response to the Ryan-rumors suggesting that Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) should run if Ryan does depart. Scalise is number three in leadership.
Speaker Ryan has not yet commented on the idea of a budget rescission. If it were to happen it would start with a presidential submission of a list of rescissions (cuts) and then Congress would vote on it through the appropriations committees. That would seem unlikely since many of the appropriations increases were to programs that had been long underfunded due to the 2011 budget caps. The process will be influenced by what the Administration would propose. What they have included for cuts in their first two budget have now been rejected twice by the Congress in many instances. The action is rarely used with the last time being a 1992 bill signed by President George Bush with a Democratic Congress.
Despite that the House is holding several of their appropriations subcommittee hearings for FY 2019 this week. The House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee will hold hearings this week. The House has already passed their deadline for member-submitted spending requests (March 16). The Senate timelines are April 26. With the departure of Senator Cochrane there will also be a new Appropriations Chair in the Senate with Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) now the new leader of that still key committee.
For a CWLA chart of spending go here.