House Rejects Two Amendments Aimed at Trimming CBO Budget

The House late Wednesday rejected two appropriations bill amendments aimed at trimming the Congressional Budget Office’s budget and personnel. The proposals had been favored by House Republicans critical of CBO’s recent estimates of the impact of GOP health care proposals on insurance coverage.

An amendment by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) would have cut $25.4 million from the CBO’s budget. CBO had sought $49.9 million for fiscal 2018. Another amendment, by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) was narrower in scope, seeking to eliminate the CBO’s Budget Analysis division to save $15 million, cutting 89 employees from the CBO’s 235 headcount.

Both were sharply rejected, with Perry’s amendment failing on a 107-314 vote and Griffith’s losing on a 116-309 tally. In both instances, the only “aye” votes came from Republicans.

“We all know and agree the Congressional Budget Office is tasked with determining the budget and economic impacts of proposed legislation which are critical to our everyday decisions. Oftentimes, they are late, and, unfortunately, too often they are woefully incorrect,” Perry said on the House floor.

House Budget Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) defended the CBO.

Diane Black

“The CBO is an important organization that provides vital information that Congress does need to make the best decisions. However, the modeling and scoring methods they currently are using need to be scrutinized, especially their behavioral predictions,” she said.

The Budget Committee will hold hearings in the fall, she said, “to gain a better understanding of their methods and how we can work to improve their ability to give Congress better information, which we obviously need.”

Democrats accused Republicans of offering the amendment simply to get back at the CBO for its scores.

“This amendment is breathtaking in its completely overt vindictiveness,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said. “Some members don't like the calls the refs have made in games. You can have your opposition and your opinion. Here, we are trying to get the referee fired.”