Last week, Budget Director and Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney, was again talking up a rescission package that may not get through Congress but could block the release of some spending—at least for a while.
Mulvaney indicated that the package of proposed cuts to the just passed 2018 appropriations would likely total around $60 billion. There seemed to be limited enthusiasm from Hill Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and key appropriators Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). The White House is working with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who supports the effort. McCarthy is hoping to succeed Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) next year after he retires.
The White House would propose the cuts then Congress has 45 days to act. The question is unclear but Mulvaney seemed to indicate last week that pending a congressional decision the proposed cuts would freeze funding in those programs. It is unclear how the 45-day period ticks off, i.e. 45 calendar days or 45 legislative days. The latter could drag out release of funds until the end of the 2018 fiscal year. Administrations do sometimes try and block funding, even when appropriated, but if the Administration uses the rescission as a rationale for holding up the release of funds it would draw the ire of appropriators from both houses and both parties. Appropriators have also indicated a roll back of even parts of the 2018 appropriations would undercut any good-faith negotiations in the future.
In the meantime, Congress is moving ahead with some of their hearings. CWLA has submitted public testimony to the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee with public testimony for that subcommittee due this April 26. The CWLA testimony calls for Congress to fully fund the two Title IV-B programs (Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families) to help build up more model programs that could eventually qualify for funding under the Family First Act. CWLA also calls for significant increases in CAPTA and the Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (CB-CAP) programs to better address the prevention of child abuse.
In the Senate, new Appropriations Chairman Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) wants to move on the FY 2019 appropriations this spring and summer. He may or may not get assistance from Senate leadership as far as scheduling bills for floor debate. One item that might make it more possible is that the February budget deal allowed for an increase in spending above 2018 increases. Although not as generous as the increases for FY 2018, the approximate $18 billion increase for non-defense spending might make progress on appropriations possible for this summer.
For a CWLA chart of spending on the pre-rescission 2018 numbers go here.