The House rejected two amendments to a spending bill late Wednesday night that would have cut funds to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan office in charge of estimating the budgetary effects of legislation, The Hill reports.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of both the House Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee came out against the bills.
“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,” Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Ranking Member Richard Neal wrote.
The first amendment, offered by Representative Scott Perry would have slashed CBO’s funding by 50.4 percent. That figure, Perry said, was to match the discrepancy between CBO’s predictions for how many people would gain health insurance under ObamaCare, and the number that actually did.
“Who among us works half the time, gets it doubly wrong and gets a paycheck? The CBO,” Perry said.
Defenders of the CBO have noted that the predictions were made before the Supreme Court struck down parts of the law requiring states to accept Medicaid expansion and that few alternative predictions are consistently more accurate.
“Some Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration are engaged in a steadily escalating campaign to tear down the Congressional Budget Office and anyone else who does not tell them what they want to hear. This amendment is a direct assault, eliminating half of CBO’s budget,” said House Budget Committee Ranking Member John Yarmuth.
Members of the Trump administration have regularly derided and denounced the CBO, which has projected that its healthcare laws would lead to millions more uninsured, and disputed claims that its budget plan would balance. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 314 to 107.
The second amendment, offered by Representative Morgan Griffith, used a newly-revived rule that allows Congress to specifically target certain federal roles for elimination, called the Holman rule. The amendment sought to eliminate 89 CBO employees who work on the scoring.
“Too often, predictions made by CBO turn out to be off the mark,” Griffith said.
House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black came out against the amendment. “This amendment is not the best way to accomplish our goal of obtaining better analysis from the CBO,” she said. Instead, she added, she would hold hearings in the budget committee in the autumn over ways to improve CBO’s models. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 309 to 106.