CBO head to testify for budget conference

The next meeting of the new House-Senate budget conference committee will feature a hearing with Congressional Budget Director Douglas Elmendorf, the leaders of the conference announced Friday.

The committee, headed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will convene on Wednesday for its second session.

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"Before the conferees’ discussion, Director Elmendorf will brief the conferees on CBO’s budget and economic outlook, and answer questions," a release sent from the House and Senate Budget committees states.

The first session of the conference involved opening statements in which a rift on taxes was immediately apparent. Both Ryan and Murray are shooting for a smaller deficit deal that would replace all or part of the automatic $91 billion sequester cut for this year and keep the government open after Jan. 15.

At the first meeting, Democrats said that any deal must look at closing tax loopholes, while Ryan said a deal should look to replace indiscriminate cuts with more targeted spending reductions. Democrats are circulating a list of 12 examples of tax loopholes they view as egregious. 

The list includes corporate jet tax breaks and those for second mortgages as well as breaks for multinational companies. Lobbyists reacted to the new list on Friday.

It remains unclear if any actual negotiation can take place at the second meeting, but the fact it is turning into a hearing could be a bad sign. House and Senate appropriators have called on the budget conference to have a deal by Nov. 22 so that a giant detailed omnibus spending bill could be crafted under the parameters set by any budget deal.