Demands for CBO score jeopardize Friday House vote

The demands from a handful of centrist lawmakers for a full Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the social spending package are jeopardizing House Democratic leaders’ plans to hold a vote Friday on the legislation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged that a CBO score on the bill — which spans more than 2,000 pages — would not be ready on Friday.

“We’re working on it,” Hoyer said of the vote count. 

House Democrats can only afford up to three defections and still pass legislation on their own without any support from Republicans.

And while Democratic leaders had ironed out numerous other policy disputes late Thursday night, including prescription drug pricing and the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, they had yet to resolve moderates’ concerns about wanting lots of time to review the legislation’s fiscal impact.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), a centrist who represents a district carried by former President Trump, emerged from Pelosi’s office reiterating that there should be a CBO score before a vote on the social spending package.

Asked if there will be a vote on Friday, Golden said: “That’s a good question. I don’t know.”

Golden, who has bucked his party on other major votes including Trump’s impeachment and a COVID-19 relief package, has also indicated other objections to the social spending package. He outlined numerous concerns with the legislation in a Medium post on Thursday, including the child tax credit and the state and local tax deduction.

The push for a CBO score before voting on the social spending package is not universal among House Democratic centrists, however.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) — who clinched a deal on the state and local tax deduction, a top priority for his state — urged Democrats on Friday to get on board so that they could vote on both the social spending package and the long-delayed bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

“It’s time to stop delaying & start delivering on priorities to help our communities. With the bipartisan infrastructure bill and reconciliation, let’s revitalize our infrastructure, invest in child care, & cut taxes for middle-class families w/ SALT relief,” Gottheimer tweeted. “Let’s get this done.”

House Democratic leaders have struggled since September to pass both the social spending package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill due to internal divisions over strategy.

Progressives have resisted a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which the Senate passed in August, to maximize their leverage over the social spending package.

But the tables were turned on Friday, with centrists now being the primary holdouts on Democratic leaders’ preferred strategy.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) contrasted progressives’ strategy of withholding their votes for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until they secured priorities in the social spending package with centrists now holding up both measures for a CBO analysis. 

“I feel like there’s a difference between progressives holding out and us going back to our communities and saying we’re doing this for child care, immigration, universal pre-K, health care extension. And I think it’s a lot harder to go back to a person’s community and say, ‘Hey, I’m doing this for a CBO score.’ So I think politically, it’s very difficult to justify,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Build Back Better CBO Congressional Budget Office Donald Trump Infrastructure Jared Golden Josh Gottheimer Steny Hoyer

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