The Act was passed in large part to limit the President’s power over appropriations (President Nixon, specifically), so that he/she could not refuse to spend funds that were appropriated by Congress. The President’s power to do so is only limited, however, not eliminated. Since we have a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House, as well as in the White House, the powers of Impoundment and Recission can be wielded by Republicans to slash spending without needing a super majority in Congress.
Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (Pub.L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601–688) is a United States federal law that governs the role of the Congress in the United States budget process.
As James Freeman points out in the Wall Street Journal,
The political left is getting nervous because a virtuous and lawful reduction in federal spending is suddenly looking much more likely. This column is told that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) is now on board.
Specifically, Mr. Ryan likes the idea of paring back the huge spending hikes in the recently enacted budget bill. While the budget required 60 votes in the Senate and therefore Democratic support, a “rescission” bill to repeal the spending increases needs only a simple majority in each house. The plan was advanced last week in a column by the Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel:
It’s a chance for Republicans to honor their promises of spending restraint and redeem themselves with a base turned off by the omnibus blowout. It’s an opening for the GOP to highlight the degree to which Democrats used the bill to hold the military hostage to their own domestic boondoggles. And it’s a chance for Mr. Trump to present himself again as an outsider, willing to use unconventional means to change Washington’s spending culture.
It’s called the 1974 Impoundment Act, which allows the president to order the rescission of specific funds, so long as Congress approves those cuts within 45 days.
Mr Freeman explains why this could be very effective, and good news for us, the taxpayers:
The Senate being a clubby place, one might think the rescission bill would languish in committee there. But the budget law gives spending cutters super powers. A discharge motion is made automatically in order, and in the Senate it is a privileged motion. (This means it can cut in front of other business.) The motion is limited to one hour of debate—really fast work for the Senate.
But wait, there’s more: in the House, where there are also the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Appropriators (the latter of whom can be counted on to scuttle rescissions if they can get away with it), there are fast-track procedures, too. It takes only one-fifth of the Members of the House to force a floor vote on a rescission bill. When the bill comes to the floor the motion to proceed is “highly privileged” (that is, it takes precedence over all pending business) …
Getting 50 Republican votes in the Senate will be made easier because they will be forced into an up-or-down vote—not the usual forest of complexity where they can hide in the tall grass. Ditto for House Republican appropriators.
It seems that President Trump has been talking about rescission with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). If Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell endorse the President’s plans, it would make it extremely difficult for appropriators to resist.
Very soon Republican voters may have reason to celebrate. Maybe, just for once, Congress will do the right thing. We can encourage them by getting on the phone and letting our representatives know that we support recission.