A group of Senate conservatives is pushing forward with President Trump‘s plan to claw back more than $15 billion in spending despite concerns from several of their Republican colleagues.
Ten GOP senators announced Friday that they had introduced the rescissions package, saying they were rolling out the legislation to help ensure it reaches the Senate floor within the 45-day window to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), David Perdue (Ga.), John Kennedy (La.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) all introduced the legislation.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is also supporting the bill, according to his office.
“Yes, a $15 billion spending reduction is a drop in the bucket compared to a $15 trillion debt,” Lee said in a statement. “But we have to start cutting spending somewhere.
Kennedy added that “Washington has long been spending tax dollars like a bunch of drunken sailors.”
Notably absent from the bill’s list of co-sponsors are members of Senate leadership or Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Conservatives seized on the dynamic Friday afternoon, with FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon saying the absence of GOP leaders “speaks volumes.”
“Clearly, Senate rank and file are the ones concerned with reckless spending. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] is not going to take up the White House’s proposal to impound unobligated funds, it is good to that know we have Sens. Lee, Paul, and others to stick up for American taxpayers,” he added in a statement.
The Trump administration submitted a request to Congress on May 8 to claw back $15.4 billion in spending from previously approved funds. Lawmakers have 45 days to approve the measure if they want to avoid the 60-vote Senate filibuster.
Senate GOP leadership has kept the door open to considering the legislation if it can pass the House.
“My understanding of the rescission package is that it does not breach the bipartisan agreement we reached in the caps deal. If the House is able to pass the rescissions package, we’ll take a look at it,” McConnell told reporters recently.
But Republicans could struggle to get 50 votes for the legislation without help from Democrats, who have balked because the package targets funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program as well as funds designated for the 2015 Ebola outbreak.
Shelby suggested earlier this month that the package “could take funds away from a lot of us in the South, on transportation. And that’s not going to be a very popular thing.”
Murkowski said late last week that she had talked with White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney. Trump’s budget director was open to making changes to address some of her concerns, she said.
“[But] a lot of it has to do just with the fact that we have directed that spending and rescissions effectively take that away from us as the Congress,” Murkowski said.
BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 05/25/18