Politics

Didn’t Dems Vote To Rescind CHIP Funding In March?

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Democrats are firing on all cylinders Tuesday, roasting the Trump administration’s plans to roll back $15 billion in previously allocated funding because it requests Congress claw back money from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Yet, a great number of congressional Democrats voted to do just that in the March $1.3 trillion spending bill.

House and Senate Democrats are already posturing to vote against the administration’s proposal, because nearly 50 percent of the requested rescissions come from two accounts within CHIP — $7 billion the White House claims are funds that can’t be or won’t be spent under law and an additional $2 billion in contingency funds. The White House told reporters Monday evening that a good portion of the $7 billion cut to CHIP funding comes from 2017 ($5 billion), which has now expired.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer came out against Trump’s rescission package Monday, setting the tone for an upcoming fight.

“Let’s be honest about what this is: President Trump and Republicans in Congress are looking to tear apart the bipartisan (CHIP), hurting middle-class families and low-income children, to appease the most conservative special interests and feel better about blowing up the deficit to give the wealthiest few and biggest corporations huge tax breaks,” Schumer said Monday.

Schumer’s counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said her colleagues were not ready to strike a deal.

“These Republican rescissions show the hypocrisy of a GOP Congress that insists on tight budgets for children and families while handing enormous, unpaid-for giveaways to corporations and the wealthiest,” Pelosi said in a statement to members Monday.

Schumer, Pelosi and many prominent Democrats have already voted to rescind CHIP funding not even three months ago in March, making their statement’s Tuesday all the more confusing.

Members of Congress voted in late March to rescind $3.1 billion from the CHIP Contingency Fund and $3.6 billion in funds provided to states, totaling just under $7 billion.

From the text of the March omnibus:

SEC. 526.

Not later than 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter, beginning with the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and the Social Security Administration shall provide the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate a quarterly report on the status of balances of appropriations: Provided, That for balances that are unobligated and uncommitted, committed, and obligated but unexpended, the quarterly reports shall separately identify the amounts attributable to each source year of appropriation (beginning with fiscal year 2012, or, to the extent feasible, earlier fiscal years) from which balances were derived.

(rescission)

SEC. 527.

Of any available amounts appropriated under section 2104(a)(21) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1397dd) that are unobligated as of September 25, 2018, $3,572,000,000 are hereby rescinded as of such date.

SEC. 528.

Amounts deposited in the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund prior to the beginning of fiscal year 2018 under section 2104(n)(2) of the Social Security Act and the income derived from investment of those funds pursuant to section 2104(n)(2)(C) of that Act, shall not be available for obligation in this fiscal year.

SEC. 529.

Of the amounts deposited in the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund for fiscal year 2018 under section 2104(n)(2) of the Social Security Act and the income derived from investment of those funds pursuant to section 2104(n)(2)(C) of that Act, $1,967,678,000 shall not be available for obligation in this fiscal year.

(rescission)

Democratic leadership aren’t the only ones crying foul about the president’s rescission proposal. Democratic senators tweeted their disdain for the proposal, because it contains requests for cuts to the CHIP program.

All five of the senators who tweeted about CHIP voted for the March omnibus.

Furthermore, lawmakers agreed to a 10-year extension CHIP funding in early February. The deal included $7 billion towards community health centers, $6 billion to deal with opioids and mental care and other provisions supported on a bipartisan basis.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan put forth an amendment in 2011 that called for the rescinding of $44 billion in unobligated funds–an amount three times the size of the administration’s proposal. The amendment won the support of 81 senators, including Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California, Chris Coons of Delaware, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bob Melendez of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is ambivalent about the president’s proposal because of CHIP funding, also voted for Stabenow’s amendment in 2011.

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