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Senate Fails to Pass Rescissions Package, Would Have Removed $7 Billion from CHIP

The Senate last week failed to pass a $15 billion budget claw-back supported by President Trump before a procedural deadline. The package of budget rescissions contained $7 billion in spending that had been designated for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and was widely seen as an effort to appease conservatives unhappy with the increased federal spending contained in earlier bipartisan budget deals.

The rescissions package would not have directly affected the 10-year CHIP authorization signed into law earlier in 2018. Instead, the bill targets funds that were appropriated but not spent in prior years. The bill also includes contingency funds that were not likely be accessed. However, CHIP proponents raised concerns that these funds could be used to plug gaps in other healthcare programs in the future and should be reserved for that purpose.

In addition, Democrats in Congress opposed the effort as an attempt to reverse a bipartisan agreement on spending after the fact. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said on the House floor that the rescissions would “negate an agreement that was reached and to, in effect, say, no, we really don’t want to spend that money. That may be correct, but the majority of the Republicans in this House voted for it. Nobody said: We are going to vote for it, but days later, we are going to come back and say we don’t want this, we don’t want that, and we don’t want the other.”

Senate GOP leaders had until June 22 to pass the measure by a simple majority, after which a 60-vote threshold would be required. It’s unclear whether Congress will take up another version of the rescissions package without the CHIP funds included, Democrats in both chambers have indicated they do not support any rescission that includes this health care funding.