Express-News Editorial Board
Published 5:30 pm, Friday, May 18, 2018
Photo: Michael Cummo /Hearst Connecticut Media
Congress needs to maintain the commitment it made to children in low-income households earlier this year when it extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s funding for 10 years.
President Donald Trump is seeking to use a rarely used budgetary maneuver to strip $15 billion of spending that had already been approved for the federal budget.
The move is an effort to ease conservative taxpayers’ concerns over the escalating federal deficit caused by the spending bill. That deficit is expected to reach $1 trillion next year. About $7 billion of the cuts Trump is proposing would come from CHIP.
Using funds earmarked for the health and well being of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable populations to score political points right before mid-term election balloting is bad public policy.
U.S. presidents have only been allowed to seek a rescission, the term used for taking back money from federal programs after they have been approved by Congress, since the 1970s. Bill Clinton was the last president to get a rescission approved.
Congress has 45 days to approve the president’s request. Each chamber needs only a majority vote for the measure to pass.
The funds would only be taken back if Congress goes along with the plan. U.S. presidents do not have a line-item veto.
We urge the Texas delegation to push back against this plan. There are 9 million children and their families dependent on this program.
Administration officials contend the cuts would create savings without affecting operations because it is money likely not to be spent for children’s health insurance anyway.
Some of the money targeted is part of a rainy day fund to cover unexpected surges in state enrollment. Contingency funding is not always necessary, but it could create problems if it became needed. Why take the chance?
Congress’ failure to provide CHIP funding in a timely manner last year sent many states scrambling. It was not until late January that the funding finally came through for six years in the form of a continuing resolution. A later resolution extended the funding for a total of 10 years.
CHIP, which was established in 1997, is a successful program that has brought the uninsured rate among children down from 14 percent to 5 percent over the last 21 years.
Let’s not mess with success by undermining its funding.
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