As Donald Trump publicly called for a peaceful transfer of power, his scorched earth policy continues in the shadows. Grasping at the last remnants of power, the twice impeached president moved to freeze $27.4 billion worth of government programs in the last week of his presidency using a budget maneuver called rescission.
Under the 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act, the president can request that Congress rescind, or wind back, budget authority over certain programs. While Congress considers the request, the programs can be frozen for up to 45 days, at which point the request expires if Congress does not act. This presidential power is used as a bargaining tool, but since Trump has less than 24hrs left in his presidency, all it does is cause harm to Joe Biden‘s incoming administration.
Each year of his tenure as president, Trump has proposed extreme cuts to domestic programs, Congress continually rejected the cuts. Trump had signed the $2.3 trillion omnibus spending bill in December, but had indicated that he would make requests for “wasteful items” to be cut. The lame-duck Republican requested 73 cutbacks to the 2021 federal budget.
The letter asked leaders in the House and Senate to impound funds from almost every Cabinet-level agency, including the Environmental Protection Agency. The request also included cuts from the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the Peace Corps, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, among a slew of others.
Congressional Democrats were quick to reject Trump’s proposal.
“Can you think of anything more immoral?” said House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, “President Trump’s proposed rescissions attack a broad swath of critical programs that help make life better for Americans and sustain our leadership around the world.” Representative John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the cuts were an attempt by Trump to simply inflict damage. “These rescissions are filled with damaging and irrational cuts to programs critical in the fight against COVID-19, climate change, and strengthening America’s global leadership,” he said.
Just as presidents have done since the birth of the United States, Barack Obama shared words of wisdom with Donald Trump before his inauguration. Though the failed real estate mogul from New York was not who President Obama wanted to win the election, he still wanted him to succeed in his new position. The 44th president knew if Trump was a good leader, the country he swore to protect would prosper. As shown in his actions since losing reelection, Trump does not care about the United States. He cares about Trump. With hours left in his administration, the rescission request will do little more than temporarily delay programs. To Trump, these delays will cause pain for the incoming administration, and in his mind, that is a victory for him.