As is well known, President Trump was so deeply dissatisfied with Congress’ $2.3 trillion COVID relief bill that he threatened to veto it. But now, he has done something that allows him to make the changes he wants to the legislation without outright rejecting it.
President Trump has invoked the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
What Is the Impoundment Control Act of 1974?
The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 is a law that was originally passed to prevent the president from unilaterally deciding how to fund various government programs without any input from Congress. However, the president has managed to turn this around and use the law’s provisions to stop Congress from spending money on things that he thinks are ill-advised.
Broadly, the law allows the president to make changes to Congress’ spending bills in two ways: through rescissions or through deferrals. Rescissions allow the president to reduce the amount Congress has agreed to spend on something, and deferrals allow him to withhold or delay funding from certain things.
To make rescissions, the president must issue a special message to Congress, which President Trump did on December 27. The message states that he will return the bill to Congress, redlining all of the areas of spending that he wants to be rescinded, in the amounts he wishes them to be rescinded. Congress will then have to vote on each of the proposed rescissions.
What Does the President Want?
In particular, the president has complained that the COVID relief bill gives away enormous amounts of money in foreign aid. Among some of these giveaways are $700 million in foreign aid to Sudan, $430 million for Ukraine, $1.3 billion for Egypt, $500 million for Israel, and, perhaps most absurdly, $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan. Since the country is in the midst of a pandemic, Trump regards this as outrageous. He wants all of these things and more to be removed.
Furthermore, the president has objected to the fact that the bill does not reform Section 230, which gives big tech platforms like Facebook and YouTube immunity from the libel prosecution that publishers might face, even though these platforms have increasingly been acting like publishers of late by censoring conservative viewpoints.
Another of the president’s most prominent objections has been that the bill only gives individuals making $75,000 per year or less $600 in stimulus money when the president wants people to receive $2,000. As of the evening of December 28, however, the revised provision to increase the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 has passed the House.
Some Senators, like Josh Hawley of Missouri, are excited to vote on the president’s proposed rescissions.