The Congressional Budget Office survived two major assaults on its existence earlier this week.
The House of Representatives considered two amendments to a spending bill Wednesday that would have crippled the CBO’s funding and staff. Both were introduced by members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.
One measure introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) would have slashed funding to the CBO by $25 million — over half of its $48.5 million appropriation.
The other — offered by Perry and Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — would have eliminated the CBO’s Budget and Analysis Division and transferred its responsibilities to the director.
The Budget and Analysis Division — which employs one-third of all CBO analysts — is the heart of the CBO. It provides estimates on how legislation will impact federal spending and the economy. Under the proposed amendment, the CBO would instead aggregate data from think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institution to develop its estimates.
The threats to the CBO come amid continued bad news from the office regarding the GOP’s healthcare reform legislation. In May, the CBO found that some 24 million people would lose their health insurance over 10 years if the American Health Care Act became law.
The CBO later found that the Senate version of the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would be almost as disastrous, stripping 22 million of health insurance over the coming decade.
Numbers like these are why the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare is currently polling in the low double digits. Unhappy with the analysis, some Republicans chose to criticize the CBO rather than revise their legislation.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Meadows said:
“[The CBO is] the one group that makes a weatherman’s 10-day forecast look accurate.”
Earlier this month, the White House tweeted a video charging that the CBO uses “faulty assumptions and bad numbers.”
Ultimately, Democrats and a broad swath of Republicans united to defend the CBO. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said:
“I think it’s dangerous anytime you can punish individual employees just because you disagree with them. It’s a temptation that can be easily abused.
“To me, this is really, it’s petty and arbitrary. We’re not having a hearing. [The CBO employees] are not getting a chance to make their case. You don’t fire somebody that is sincerely doing their job just because you disagree with what they say.”
After rejecting the proposed amendments, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and ranking member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) issued a joint statement reading, in part:
“We rely on CBO’s analysts to provide, fair, impartial, and fact-based analysis. Without that analysis, Congress could not do its work or stay within the very budget constraints we set up for ourselves in law.”
Featured image via YouTube.