The Trump administration is asking Congress to cancel $15 billion in government funds, including $7 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to 8 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid yet cannot afford health insurance for their children.
The money at risk was approved as part of a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March. Trump signed the bill, but only after asserting his opposition to it and threatening to shut down the government over it. Now it appears that Trump wishes to take back part of that bipartisan deal.
The proposal is a Republican effort to claim fiscal responsibility after a deficit-increasing tax cut and a massive fiscal 2018 spending bill.
It would cancel unspent money from previous years’ children’s health insurance and would have no effect on current programs, the official said. Other unspent funds that would be canceled include $4.3 billion for a vehicle technology program and funds for Obamacare, the 2015 Ebola outbreak and railroad benefits.
The administration aims to follow up with a spending-cut plan that would take money from the current year’s spending bill, the official added.
The $15 billion request is scaled back from the administration’s initial goal of cutting a larger amount of domestic funds from the 2018 bipartisan $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump in March, which has proven unpopular with Republican voters. The goal is to keep Congress from tapping unspent money for new purposes as has happened in the past, the official said.
In contrast to the effort to cut the funding, Melania Trump announced her new policy initiative for children, titled “Be Best,” on Monday at the White House. In her announcement, the first lady said, “[Children] deserve every opportunity to enjoy their innocence. Every child should know it is safe to make mistakes and that there are supportive adults and friends nearby to catch them if they fall.” She added that we should all “encourage children to dream big, think big and do all they can to be best in everything that they do.”
The initiative will help children born addicted to opioids, work to prevent cyberbullying and encourage mental and physical health among children.
Television commentator Rachel Maddow noted the bad timing of Melania Trump’s announcement, which was juxtaposed with another policy decision announced Monday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a goal of the administration will be for “100 percent” of illegal border crossers to be charged with “improper entry by an alien,” a misdemeanor offense that could result in six months in prison. And since the parents will be charged as criminals, the kids—including infants—will be taken away and sent to detention facilities for children, possibly hundreds of miles away, while their parents await trial.
If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law […] If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said.
The Los Angeles Times notes:
The new policy is expected to send a flood of deportation cases—and legal challenges—into federal courts. It also could put thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and children in shelters, and is likely to strain an immigration system that has struggled to keep up with a surge in enforcement under President Trump. Until now, individuals apprehended while crossing illegally were often simply bused back over the border without charges. That was especially common for people without criminal records or previous immigration violations.