The House narrowly approved a rescissions package from the White House that aims to cancel billions in unspent funds from the prior fiscal year, much of which would not have been spent otherwise.
The vote was 210-206.
While the package nixes $15 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it will essentially only save the government about $1 billion.
While it passed the House but unlikely to go far in the Senate, even though rescissions only need a simple majority and not subject to the normal 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster.
The conservative groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America described the package as modest in size but still encouraged Republicans to support it, saying it eliminates expired and unnecessary programs.
Republicans are touting the proposal as a major starter effort in addressing wasteful spending.
“The HISTORIC Rescissions Package we’ve proposed would cut $15,000,000,000 in Wasteful Spending! We are getting our government back on track,” President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this week.
The package is indeed the largest amount of rescissions proposed at one time since 1981. Presidents proposed rescissions totaling $76 billion between 1974 and 2000, of which Congress accepted $25 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Budget.
President Bill Clinton was the last president to propose a rescissions package.
A big chunk of the White House package — $7 billion — will go toward unspent funds in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a move that Democrats are seizing upon and will likely use as an attack against Republicans in the midterm elections.
Republicans, however, argue the money was leftover spending and would have been shifted over to fund other aspects of government if it wasn’t rescinded. The CBO projected the rescission would not affect payments to states for the program over the next decade, nor would the number of individuals with insurance be affected.
Democrats are also blasting the size of the package, saying it pales in comparison to the tax cut law that significantly raised the deficit.
“The majority’s bill is like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound,” Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said Thursday on the House floor.