Donald Trump has been operating as if he is the CEO of the U.S. government instead of an equal branch. The House of Representatives has the power of the purse. Yet, POTUS has repeatedly tried to undermine the House’s ability to approve funding. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was having none of it.
She sent a letter to Trump’s White House warning that its proposal to cut billions in foreign aid would jeopardize the latest recent two-year budget agreement. Congress had just succeeded in passing a more lengthy agreement, which took care of the debt ceiling all the way through July 2021, a remarkable bipartisan act. The purpose was to avoid a government shutdown. There were 132 House Republicans and 23 Senate Republicans who voted against the agreement.
Yet, Trump wanted the rescissions package. This would have cut over four billion dollars in approved foreign aid from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department.
Trump’s minions have been pouring through the dusty obscure corners of government to come up with a rescissions package that would cancel the budget authority that Congress had previously provided. His Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin referred to The Impoundment Control Act of 1974:
‘(The act) specifies that the president may propose to Congress that funds be rescinded. If both Houses have not approved a rescission proposal (by passing legislation) within 45 days of continuous session, any funds being withheld must be made available for obligation.’
She addressed a letter to the Treasury Secretary indicating that only Congress could approve the money and referred to a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The Speaker did not mince words as The POLITICO reported:
‘I request that you work within the Administration to stop this proposed rescission, which GAO [Government Accountability Office] states is illegal, which violates the good faith of our budget negotiations, which important Republicans say is ill-advised, and which overrides Congress’ most fundamental Constitutional power.’
The House Speaker also enclosed a bipartisan letter. This one also warned Mnuchin away from a new rescission package. The letter was signed by the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriates committee member Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC). They were concerned about the significant cut to the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development funding.
‘A move to rescind funding absent policy input from the Department of State and USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) only undermines our national security interests and emboldens our adversaries. We strongly urge you to reconsider this approach.’
In addition, Pelosi added a letter signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair James Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez(D-NJ) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) and ranking Member Michael McCaul R-(R-TX).
Appropriations Committee chair Nina Lowey (D-NY) released a statement against Mnuchin’s rescission efforts. His actions undermined the separation of the branches of government. She said, according to The Hill:
‘We are insisting that the administration spend the appropriated foreign assistance funds, and are working with GAO to make sure the law is followed.’
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