Vice Chairman Of Appropriations Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On President Trump’s Rescission Package

In just the latest example of the cut first and ask questions later policies of the Trump administration, we are voting on a bill today that would claw back billions of dollars from children’s health insurance, affordable housing investments, infrastructure, rural development, and innovative energy programs.  For a White House who just forced through Congress a $1.9 trillion tax giveaway to billionaires and corporations, to defend these cuts as necessary to reduce the deficit is laughable.  It is unconscionable.

President Trump is seeking to cut $7 billion from funding meant for children’s health insurance.  By stripping this funding from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, we leave kids unprotected from unforeseen events like a flu outbreak or a natural disaster.  We strip Congress of its ability to make critical investments in health care and education.  Even if the money can no longer be dedicated to the CHIP program, we should reinvest it in other important programs, as we have done in the past, that support our Nation’s children and families.  Earlier this year, there was bipartisan support to direct this funding to the Federal response to the opioid epidemic, Child Care and Development Block Grants, Head Start and the National Institutes of Health.  To strip this funding is penny wise and pound foolish. 

President Trump wants to claw back billions of dollars from infrastructure programs.  These programs do everything from supporting loans to help factories produce more fuel efficient vehicles to building bridges in small communities.   These are programs that directly support American jobs.  For an administration that is perpetually in “Infrastructure Week,” it does not make sense that they would be trying to cut infrastructure funding.  How do we put “America First” by stripping funds that support American jobs?

In a continued push to leave rural America behind, Trump’s rescission package would cut millions of dollars from rural development programs.  These programs help to ensure that the same basic services are offered in rural areas that are offered in urban areas.  Things we all rely on like schools, health care clinics and police stations. 

In the Appropriations Committee, Chairman Shelby and I have been focused on moving forward through the fiscal year 2019 process and returning the committee to regular order.  We have successfully kept poison pill riders and controversial authorizing language out of the appropriations bills and have passed seven bipartisan bills out of our committee.  Even the Interior Appropriations bill, a bill that has been historically bogged down with poison pill riders and forced into massive omnibus appropriations bills because we could not reach an agreement, was reported by our committee unanimously.  This has not happened in nearly a decade. 

If we go forward with this package, make no mistake: it will derail the process.  This rescissions bill undermines the bipartisan budget deal that we struck just four months ago.  If we go forward with this package, another will follow, and another, and another, and another, even further undermining the agreement.  The Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse.  Not the Executive Branch.  We decide spending priorities.  Not the President.  We should exercise that right, reject this rescissions package, and uphold the bicameral, bipartisan, budget agreement.   

I urge all Senators to reject this rescissions package and join Chairman Shelby and I in fixing the appropriations process.

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CONTACT: Jay Tilton 202-224-2667