April 17, 2018 / 8:58 PM / 6 months ago

Senator McConnell warns against paring back spending law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Tuesday against trying to rescind some spending from a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill passed in March, an idea that has been promoted by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and that the White House is mulling.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“We had an agreement with the Democrats” on the spending bill, McConnell, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News when asked about reports that President Donald Trump wanted to cut a major portion of the spending.

“You can’t make an agreement one month and say: ‘OK, we really didn’t mean it,’” McConnell said.

Allowing the spending rollback to happen could rekindle the budget battles that consumed Congress for much of 2017 and early 2018, a scenario lawmakers had hoped the massive spending bill had averted through November’s congressional elections.

Conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill support the major increases in military funding included in the bipartisan spending deal, which was negotiated over several months. The increases in non-defense domestic spending were key to winning Democratic votes for the measure.

Trump has called the measure a “ridiculous situation” and said he only signed it into law to bolster defense spending.

McCarthy has been talking up making big spending cuts using a procedural tool known as rescissions, in which Trump could team up with Republicans to kill off non-military spending increases..

House of Representatives Republicans are waiting for the White House to propose such cuts, of up $60 billion, House Republican sources say. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox earlier this month that “we are looking at an enhanced rescission package,” but gave no numbers or other details.

Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the hard-right Republican Freedom Caucus, who frequently speaks with White House officials, told Fox News on Tuesday he thought a rescission package of $10 billion to $15 billion “has a chance.”

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney

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