Trump plans to restore impoundment authority to stop ‘deep state’

by WorldTribune Staff, July 3, 2023

If he returns to the White House, former President Donald Trump wants to have the option to curb runaway spending beyond just the veto.

Impoundment authority allow a president to simply refuse to spend appropriations by Congress. Current Trump campaign and former Trump administration officials told RealClearPolitics (RCP) that was part of the plan in 2020 and will be for 2024 as well.

Former President Donald Trump said he believes the 1974 law that gutted impoundment is unconstitutional, and if returned to the White House, would govern accordingly.

During his presidency, Trump signed multiple spending bills that he was not happy about. He promised he would “never sign another bill like this again” before putting his signature on a “crazy” $1.3 trillion spending bill in 2018. Two years later, he signed another omnibus bill, this one worth $1.4 trillion, that he called “disgraceful.” Both times, Trump justified signing the bills by pointing to increased military spending.

Trump’s plan for keeping Congress from ever again forcing him into “disgraceful” and “ridiculous” spending situations will be to resurrect impounding authority that Congress stripped from the presidency almost 50 years ago, RCP reported.

Impoundment “is more than just an avenue to cut spending, Trump sees that kind of authority as key to starving, and thus crushing, the so-called ‘deep state,’ ” the RCP report said.

Impoundment authority was stripped from the presidency via the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. The Nixon White House had complained that inflation was the result of a “Credit Card Congress.” Nixon warned Congress not to spend in excess of $250 billion.

“When his warning was ignored, Nixon simply refused to spend the appropriated money,” the RCP report said. “A rebuke from the Supreme Court followed when the president impounded funding for environmental projects. But weakened by Watergate, Nixon eventually signed legislation effectively surrendering a power that had been exercised from the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson to Lyndon B. Johnson.”

The concession of impoundment power was “the original sin” that ensured “the executive branch no longer plays a meaningful role” in the appropriations process, Russ Vought, Trump’s last director of the Office of Management and Budget, told RCP . Vought added that the power of the purse has become “caricature,” where rather than “setting ceilings,” Congress now sets “spending floors.”

Trump believes impoundment would be “a crucial tool” in his fight with the administrative state, the RCP report said.

“Bringing back impoundment will give us a crucial tool with which to obliterate the Deep State, Drain the Swamp, and starve the Warmongers,” Trump said in campaign video first obtained and reported by Semafor. “We can simply choke off the money.”

Trump’s campaign pointed to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, an entity that House Republicans allege has been involved in censorship of Americans, as a prime example of where dollars could be impounded.

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