NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

House Considers Novel Schemes To Find Budget Money

July 28, 1999

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, bound by spending caps they devised in 1997, are scrambling to come up with billions of dollars to fund programs like health, education, labor, housing and veterans' affairs. In the process, they are coming up with some unique ideas.

  • GOP leaders are considering asking their party's governors to return $6 billion in unspent welfare money to the U.S. Treasury.
  • "I don't think a single governor will give a penny back," predicted one Republican aide.
  • Another ploy has been to declare the $4.5 billion needed to finance the 2000 census and $3 billion for veterans' health programs as "emergency spending," thus taking them off the official financial ledger, but stretching the meaning of "emergency" in the process.
  • Yet another tactic observers find questionable would be to use the borrowing capabilities of the Tennessee Valley Authority to fund $3 billion for the veterans.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee say they are at least $10 billion to $15 billion shy of what they will need to win approval of the remaining spending bills.

Commenting on the various ploys, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said some of it is legitimate and acceptable, but added some of it "is more questionable."

Source: Tim Weiner, "Leaders in House Covet State's Unspent Welfare Money," New York Times, July 28, 1999.


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