The Senate has voted down a push by President Donald Trump to take away reserve funds from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as part of a broader effort to limit government spending.
On Wednesday, 50 senators voted against a motion to discharge the Trump administration’s rescissions package that would have revoked about $7 billion in money set aside for CHIP, which provides health care to children from low-income backgrounds; 48 senators voted in favor of it. The House approved the package earlier this month by a narrow margin. The rescissions push from the Trump team would not have impacted CHIP’s current payments to states.
Officially, the vote was whether to move the bill to the Senate floor for consideration. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined Democrats in voting no.
The president’s team argued that the plan to take away these unobligated funds would have helped shrink the government’s fiscal footprint while not impacting states directly. Although Trump signed a spending bill in March significantly increasing Washington’s budget for fiscal 2018, he expressed unhappiness about it, and still wants to find areas where he can cut spending.
However, some advocacy groups warned that removing the unobligated funds could put states in a bind in the event of an economic downturn forcing more kids onto the CHIP rolls.
Under the package voted down, $5.1 billion of the rescission would have come out of a part of CHIP that reimburses states for certain expenses. Roughly $2 billion would have been cut from CHIP reserves, which help states deal with higher-than-expected enrollment in the program.
The rescissions package totaled $15 billion. Congress had 45 days of continuous session to either adopt or reject the rescissions plan.
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