The Tech Targeted in Trump’s Rescission Request

Montri Nipitvittaya/

The $15 billion request would cancel funding for two technology loan programs.

The Trump administration included two technology loan programs in its rescission request, a $15 billion package of unobligated balances—funds sitting in accounts awaiting use—it wants Congress to rescind and put toward lowering the deficit. But pulling back those funds shouldn’t affect the tech industry, according to an administration official.

Using the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impound Control Act, the president sent to Congress what is known as a rescission request, asking the body to cancel spending authority for specific accounts. For the first of what administration officials said would be several requests, Trump focused on funds that are not being used or cannot be used in an effort to find bipartisan support.

“There’s sometimes good reasons why they haven’t been spent: because a law has lapsed or there’s no programmatic basis for why they’re spent,” an administration official said during a background briefing with reporters. “Nonetheless, it’s something that we think is important for taxpayers to get off the books.”

Within the request are funds for two technology loan programs: the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program and the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, both run by the Energy Department.

The vehicles program—with a current unobligated balance of $4.3 billion—was created to support the development of new vehicle technologies and manufacturing processes. According to the administration, the program has not issued a loan since 2011.

The Title 17 program was used to offer loan guarantees to support research into clean energy technologies. The program’s authority lapsed in 2011 with a leftover balance of $523 million.

Once the proposal is sent to Congress, the funds are frozen for 45 days while legislators debate. Lawmakers will have the option to remove or lower rescissions in the request but are not able to increase any amount, under the statute.

The process isn’t new. The Impoundment Control Act came about during President Gerald Ford’s term and was also put to use by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not use the process.