House Democratic leaders on Wednesday night said the long-awaited Congressional Budget Office score of the reconciliation bill will not come out until Thursday, forcing an acknowledgement that a Saturday healthcare vote is likely off the table.
But leaders are still hoping for a score on Thursday, and are still preparing for a possible vote before the end of the weekend.
The release of a CBO score on Thursday – triggering the Democrats' 72-hour clock – would mean that voting on the reconciliation bill would “most likely happen on Sunday, if that scenario plays out,” Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters after leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office Wednesday night.
Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), leaving that same meeting, said that the delay is the result of numerous technical issues involved, and stressed that, despite any rumors to the contrary, the delays are not the result of policy problems.
“My understanding is this has been much more technical than substantive,” Andrews said. “It’s not like what tax has to go or what spending has to go.”
Andrews did say, though, that the CBO is also taking extra time to protect the legislation from invariable legal challenges to the reconciliation process, if not the eventual law itself.
“The reason it’s taking so long, in part, is that we want to be sure that we have a score that’s solid as a rock for procedural purposes and potentially litigation purposes down the road,” Andrews said. “We all assume that the same forces that fought this so vociferously in the Congress will fight it in the courts, and we want to be prepared for that.”