Opening healthcare debate focuses on CBO scoring

Republicans and Democrats have a fundamental disagreement on how the Congressional Budget Office scored the fiscal effects of the bill, and Republicans have all but said they are discounting CBO's analysis, which says repealing the law would increase the deficit by $230 billion. Van Hollen said Tuesday that ignoring the CBO estimate is an "unprecedented step" that is a "recipe for budget anarchy and fiscal chaos."

This disagreement is likely to have little effect on passage of H.R. 2, since the Democratically controlled Senate will not take up the bill even after it passes the House. However, the budget battle will likely persist as House Republicans seek to make changes to the healthcare law later in the year, and is expected to complicate attempts to find agreement between the two parties on possible changes to existing law.

Van Hollen argued that the Senate's decision to ignore H.R. 2 means the seven-hour debate on the bill is largely a waste of time, and called on Republicans to focus on ways to create jobs. To that, Ryan retorted that the repeal bill is a jobs bill. "A half a trillion dollars in tax increases, that creates jobs?" Ryan asked of the healthcare law.

The chairmen and ranking members from House committees on Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Judiciary and Small Business will lead other portions of the debate Tuesday and Wednesday, culminating in a Wednesday vote on H.R. 2.

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