This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Teller Shared On Conference Call
Earlier last week, Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President and House Special Assistant, shared the scoop with Heritage Action Sentinels in a conference call, about what to expect in the coming weeks. Here are a few things to watch for.
A Very Important Congressional Review Act
Already passing the Senate in April, the House just passed a congressional review act. This act will deal with the 2013 Auto Lending Rule, and specifically, its regulations regarding discrimination. Since the election of Donald Trump, plenty of such commerce stifling regulations have been repealed and eliminated, causing the U.S. economy to boom.
The Senate will be focusing on circuit court nominees, of which there are six. Three of the six are on the 7th circuit, which are Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. There is already one Trump judge on the 7th circuit, so four of 11 judges will be Trump judges. Teller says that is a good sign that the 7th circuit is in good shape, and the judicial branch is recovering from the eight years of Obama era destruction, especially if all six judges are confirmed.
Rescissions, Rescissions, Rescissions
The most significant portion of this call was spent talking about the rescissions package the Trump administration is insisting on implementing. Trump sent a list to Congress of things he wants a refund of funny money on, about 15 billion dollars of it. This is the most massive request ever made by a President.
These are called unobligated balances. This means it is money that has previously been appropriated but has not yet been spent. President Trump’s rescission package is not even touching the massive omnibus spending bill. It is focusing on funds that had been previously appropriated but were never spent. It would seem the U.S. government leaves billions of dollars just lying around like crumbs.
The top two reasons why the Trump administration is doing this are as follows:
Once you rescind these funds, Congress cannot then go and use this unspent money to pay for other programs. This is where Congress decides to use unspent money from one program to fund a new one. It is an accounting game Congress plays with tax dollars.
The argument from Congress, both democrat and republican, is that they cannot do a rescission package because “we’re just going to revisit this deal we just passed and voted on, and that’s not operating in good faith.” This package solves that argument, as it does not even touch the omnibus. It also teaches congressmen how to go about this process that has not occurred in 20 years.
More Good Things
Another good thing about this package is that Democrats can not filibuster it. The primary focus of this rescissions package is to address the out of control spending of Congress, to include the Omnibus spending bill passed several months ago. The most massive aim is to recoup money instead of opening up new programs to spend it on, while at the same time passing new spending bills.
Conservatives need to be behind this package, as it is an effort to say “Hey, there is a spending problem, and we need to do something about it.” America needs to make sure their Republican congresspeople are on board with it, especially those who like to spend that “funny money” on other things.
“Democrats also should be accountable for not doing basic housekeeping,” says Teller. He goes on to say, “Steny Hoyer has stated he is now reflexively a ‘no’ on this rescission package if it is pulling back these unobligated balances.”
Rule Number One
According to Teller, rule number one is to “put pressure on the house to act fast and tout House passage as a victory.” If we could have momentum coming out of the House for that, we then can shift focus to the Senate and say “The House acted. Look what they did. It’s the right thing to do. It’s what constituents want to do. You need to do it.”
This process used to be well understood; however, “the Senate has been reluctant to take it up,” says Teller. His solution is a strong House showing to force the issue in the Senate. If that happens, there is a good chance the votes needed can be attained.
Once this is put in motion, and the rescissions package has been signed, Trump will then be able to impress upon appropriators, both democrat and republican, that this process is in play, and that the next time they design an appropriations bill, they should keep it in mind if they do not want a rescissions fight.
The ultimate goal of this package is to hopefully force some restraint on appropriations due to this process becoming viable and in play again. Teller says it is an excellent way to avoid democrat obstructionism and focus the debate on spending and spending responsibly but needs enthusiasm and momentum coming from the House. We need House members to act decisively.
Touching On Food Stamps And Farm Bill
Approximately every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Food Stamp And Farm Bill. These two are different programs which have been thrust together for congressional expediency sake. Reforms to both programs have been being advocated for years, to include separating them because they cannot be reformed while they are joined together.
Teller says it is a sort of corrupt nexus where the two programs are joining hands and putting out lousy policy together. Recently, the sentiment is that with a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President, these reforms can now be done and done well.
Teller warns that House Republicans are going to bring a bill to the floor in the coming days that does “zero in terms of meaningful substantive reforms on the AG subsidies side. In fact, it may even make things worse. On the Food Stamps side, they do put work requirements in, which is a good thing. However, those work requirements are underwhelming. Hugely problematic.”