CBO: Health package costs $940 billion; Hoyer eyes Sunday vote for measure

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hailed the figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office during a meeting with a group of reporters on Thursday morning and said the House would vote on Sunday.

He said House Democrats had crafted a bill that would amount to the largest deficit reduction package in more than 15 years.

“We think the numbers are now pretty well set from CBO,” Hoyer said. “We think it will post the largest deficit reduction of any bill that we’ve adopted in the Congress since 1993.”

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CBO told lawmakers that the health package would cost $940 billion over the next decade, reducing the deficit by $130 billion. It will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the second decade of the plan's implementation, according to those who have seen the score.

That's a larger deficit reduction than the healthcare measures passed by both the House and the Senate last year, though the CBO said the current bill would spend more than those bills.

An official score from the budget office is expected around noon, but reports about the findings were leaked to the press before the formal release. 

"We are absolutely giddy" about the score, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said during an interview on Fox News on Thursday. About the deficit-reduction figures, he added, "This is great news for the American people."

Hoyer said the CBO score will show the final bill reducing the deficit by over $1 trillion over the second decade of its implementation.

House and Senate Republicans dismissed the positive budget estimate. Following a closed-door meeting of both chambers' GOP members, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they would work to defeat the legislation in the House.

"They can tweak this thing, and still it's a trillion dollars they're going to spend," Boehner said.

Democrats have been waiting for the CBO score for days, and several undecided lawmakers have said the CBO findings will influence their votes. Leaders need 216 members of their caucus to support the healthcare package for it to win passage.

The package considered by the CBO is the Senate healthcare bill and a package of changes to that legislation that must receive votes from the House and Senate.

House leaders are considering the use of a controversial rule that would "deem" the Senate bill as having been passed without an actual roll-call vote on the measure. 

The process would send the Senate healthcare bill to President Barack Obama, with the package of changes to the bill going to a vote in the Senate under budget reconciliation rules to prevent a GOP filibuster.

Hoyer said the amendments to the Senate healthcare bill — which, along with student loan legislation, make up the reconciliation bill — have been projected to reduce the deficit by $120 billion in the first 10 years, outpacing the $100 billion estimate of the original bill.

The release of the CBO score sets into motion a 72-hour endgame on healthcare. Leaders have said they will give members 72 hours to review the legislation before a vote.

House Republicans are set to offer a measure Thursday that seeks to force and up-or-down vote on the Senate healthcare bill.

Jordan Fabian contributed to this article.

This story was updated at 9:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.