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Budget scorekeeper starts releasing estimates for Democrats' massive spending plan

The Hill logo The Hill 11/10/2021 Aris Folley
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) looks at a letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) addresses reporters during her weekly press conference on Thursday, October 28, 2021. © Greg Nash Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) looks at a letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) addresses reporters during her weekly press conference on Thursday, October 28, 2021.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has begun releasing new estimates of portions of Democrats' sweeping trillion-dollar social spending package after House leadership recently held off on voting on the plan amid pushback from moderates who called for the information.

The nonpartisan budget scorekeeper began releasing estimates for funding legislation crafted by four of the 13 House committees that worked together over the summer to craft the massive bill, an essential component of President Biden's legislative agenda.

The agency, tasked with producing formal cost estimates for congressional legislation, scored the potential budgetary effects of funding legislation drafted by the House Veterans' Affairs, Small Business, Homeland Security, and Science, Space and Technology committees.

The office estimated the legislation scored so far would amount to direct spending outlays totaling $20.5 billion from 2022 to 2031. It is expected to score the overall bill in the coming weeks.

The spending would cover proposed funding for a wide range of investments, including infrastructure improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, air quality and climate research, increasing federal contracting opportunities for small businesses, and improving federal system security.

The party plans to primarily pay for the investments using tax increases targeting high-income households and corporations.


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The CBO said the funding in those areas scored would not add to the deficit after 10 years, complying with a key rule for a tricky process known as budget reconciliation that Democrats are using to pass the bill through Congress.

The maneuver, which Republicans also used to pass former President Trump's tax law in 2017, will allow Democrats to pass the bill in the evenly split Senate with a simple majority, letting them bypass a likely GOP filibuster to approve the measure.

The bill isn't expected to fetch any votes from Republicans in either chamber, so Democrats will need nearly every party member in the House and all party members in the Senate to pass the partisan package.

But staying united amid spending negotiations has been difficult for Democrats in recent months as different factions debate the size and scope of the reconciliation plan.

Party leadership had initially planned to pass the large spending bill last week, but its passage was ultimately delayed amid pushback from moderates who demanded more data from the CBO before voting on the bill.

At the time, Democratic Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said in a statement on late Friday that they were committed to voting for the plan as long as "fiscal information" from the CBO is "consistent" with top-line information for revenues and investments from the White House.

But they also added that should the data be "inconsistent" with numbers from the White House, they would instead work with their party to "resolve any discrepancies in order to pass the Build Back Better legislation."

It remains unclear when the bill, which leadership initially aimed to pass in September and whose passage has been delayed several times since, will pass in the House amid the stalemate.

Updated Nov. 11, 10:47 a.m.

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