Trump Seeks to Claw Back $7 Billion From Child Health Program

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump will ask lawmakers Tuesday to claw back $15 billion in spending cuts as a part of a rescission package, including roughly $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance program, according to several senior administration officials.

The proposal is focused on funds that “were never going to be spent,” one official said in a call Monday night.

“A good portion of the allotment of rescission is for Children’s Health Insurance Program money that has no programmatic impact. The $7 billion in our package for rescinding CHIP is focused on unobligated balances featuring two accounts: one of the accounts has $5 billion in it and there’s no authority to spend it. The authority lapsed last year, it won’t get spent,” the official said.

The other $2 billion is in an account known as the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, which is flagged for states which expect to have a higher than anticipated enrollment into CHIP. Administration officials said they did not expect states to need or use those funds because of an improving economy.

The proposed cuts would not affect the omnibus budget deal agreed to in February since the claw backs are aimed only at federal funds that are “sitting unspent,” the official reiterated.

The administration officials also said $4.3 billion will be drawn back from a now defunct advanced technology vehicle loan program. The program has not issued a loan since 2011.

Altogether, there will be at least 38 proposed cuts in the rescission package including another $800 million rescinded from the Affordable Care Act payment pilot program plus another $222 million from funds earmarked by the Obama administration for the Ebola outbreak of 2015.

“The Centers for Disease Control declared the outbreak over in 2015, there’s no reason [the funds] should still be there,” the official said.

About $107 million currently allocated  to an emergency watershed program created in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 will also be rescinded.

The remaining funds from the relief effort would not have been used by residents of New York and New Jersey anyway, the official said.

“This isn’t a controversial proposal,” the official said, adding that the funds would have remained unused sincestate officials failed to come up with the matching funds required to release the federal funding.

While the administration insisted multiple times Monday night that the proposal would be met with open arms by Republicans and Democrats alike, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, slammed the administration’s proposal to claw back funding from CHIP.

“It appears that sabotaging our health care system to the detriment of middle class families wasn’t enough for President Trump and Republicans, now they’re going after health care dollars that millions of children rely on, especially during outbreaks of the flu and other deadly illnesses,” he said in a statement Monday.

Administration officials said their plan “was not a situation where anyone is making a proposal that would hurt the program.”

“Compare and contrast to the fact that the House and Senate, when they signed the omnibus bill into law – that had $7 billion in rescissions to CHIP … it is the exact same proposal or the same money that congress used for spending,” the official said.

Lawmakers will have just 45 days to vote on the rescission plan. A majority vote will be needed to pass it and to avoid government shutdown lawmakers must rally their votes no later than September 30.

The current package is also one of two proposals the administration has on deck.  Since the claw backs in Tuesday’s proposal in no way affect the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed in March, the official said, another reduction package will be proposed later this year.

Though a definitive timeline for the second package was not provided Monday night, the official said  altogether, roughly $25 billion would be flagged for cuts.

President Donald Trump’s power to rescind funding is authorized under the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.

“We want this town to regain its muscle memory,” the official said. “The tool has been used by every president from Ford to Clinton and its important to start this debate and use this tool.”

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