Republicans have had a rough week, mostly of their own making, and on Wednesday they added to their self-punishment with a spending fiasco in the Senate. Two GOP Senators blocked the Trump Administration’s rescissions package that would claw back $15 billion, much of which wasn’t even likely to be spent under current policy.
A Senate procedural vote to move the rescissions package failed 48-50 after defections from
of Maine and
of North Carolina. From what we’ve heard Ms. Collins wanted to keep the money on ice so if it isn’t spent as part of its current program she could spend it later on other things. Finding fake “savings” to spend elsewhere is a bipartisan tradition. Ms. Collins has helped to defeat a health-care bill that reformed Medicaid, death-tax repeal, and now the rescissions package.
Mr. Burr revolted over a line item about the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a rescission he wanted stripped from the package, and so he blocked even a debate. Mr. Burr could have moved to strike the item on the floor and he might have succeeded. The conservation program is largely a slush fund for government land grabs, but it’s politically untouchable because it reminds people of Old Faithful and camping trips.
Mr. Burr thus tanked a $15 billion package over a $16 million rescission, and only after putting his GOP colleagues on the record for a tough vote. The House narrowly passed the rescissions package, and many vulnerable Republican members now will be attacked by Democrats as having voted to slash spending without having accomplished any fiscal discipline that excites the right.
Congress’s window to pass rescission requests with a simple majority under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 expires on Friday. As with other projects this Congress, the GOP almost succeeded, only to see it blow up at the eleventh hour thanks to self-serving Senators.