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ACE, Higher Education Groups Urge Congress to Protect Student Aid From Rescission

May 07, 2018


​The White House is expected to submit a formal request to Congress this week to cut up to $15 billion in existing federal spending, the administration’s latest attempt at a rescission package to reduce the federal budget. Monday afternoon, The Washington Post reported that the proposal being sent to Capitol Hill will get nearly half of the rescission cuts from two accounts within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that White House officials said expired last year or are not expected to be drawn upon.

Rescission bills are designed to claw back funding previously provided by Congress. They are considered under an expedited process that cannot be filibustered in the Senate, allowing them to pass with 51 votes instead of 60. The procedure has not been used since 2000. 

Student aid programs would be uniquely impacted if included in a rescission package. This is because funding targeted for rescission is “frozen” for 45 congressional session days, a timeframe that would likely extend past the July 1 start of the student aid year. So even if Congress rejects proposed rescissions, the funds would be held by the Department of Education when they are supposed to be released to institutions for the upcoming academic year.      

According to multiple reports, the proposal will ask for less than the $63 billion President Trump originally said he wanted. And it will not target funds from the recently passed $1.3 trillion fiscal year 2018 spending bill, according to Politico, but rather will focus on years-old spending that has been approved but has not yet been spent. A recent op-ed in Forbes characterized the plan as more of a PR stunt than a serious policy proposal.

ACE and 34 other higher education associations sent letters last week to House and Senate appropriators and Mick Mulvaney​, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, expressing concerns about rescissions generally and urging Congress to reject a package that includes student aid funding—and asking the White House not to include student aid funding in any rescission requests in the first place. The rescission request is broadly unpopular in Congress, especially with appropriators, and is widely expected to be rejected.​

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