Budget scorekeeper awaits GOP decision

Douglas Elmendorf is remaining as director at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) until the new Republican Congress either appoints him to another term or replaces him.

Elmendorf’s term expired on Saturday, but the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 allows for a CBO director to continue serving past the expiration of his term until a successor is appointed, according to a Congressional Research Service report. 

A CBO director can be removed by either the House or Senate by resolution, the report said.

Elmendorf declined to comment to The Hill Monday on whether he’s received any indication about if Republicans will give him another term.


The task of recommending who will lead the CBO falls to the two new chairmen of the Budget committees, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights Overnight Energy — Presented by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance — Judge upholds Obama's marine monument | GOP lawmakers worried states using water rule to block fossil fuels | Lawmakers press Trump ahead of ethanol decision MORE (R-Wyo.). The final decision will be made by Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerEthics panel reprimands Freedom Caucus chairman over handling of harassment allegations Pelosi allies rage over tactics of opponents Meet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time MORE (R-Ohio) and the new president pro tempore, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGinsburg attends Medal of Freedom ceremony amid recovery from fall Utah New Members 2019 Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (R-Utah).

While the CBO job is obscure outside of Congress, the position has considerable clout, as the budget office is charged with providing nonpartisan "scoring" of how legislation impacts the federal budget.

Conservatives pushing to replace Elmendorf argue the CBO hasn’t adequately embraced "dynamic scoring" when evaluating the long-term effects of legislation. That method takes into account the broader macroeconomic impact of certain policy changes, and typically provides a more favorable score for cutting taxes.

Elmendorf has said the CBO has occasionally applied "dynamic scoring" when evaluating some legislation.

A report by Bloomberg News late last month suggested the GOP was leaning toward replacing Elmendorf, who has served as director since January 2009.

The House GOP conference is scheduled to vote behind closed doors Monday evening on changes to their rules, including one that would require the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation to use dynamic scoring when assessing major legislation.

The House is expected to vote on the rules package on Tuesday.

While the GOP's decision about the budget office could come soon, it's possible that Elmendorf could remain in limbo for some time. The first CBO director, Alice Rivlin stayed past her term’s expiration in January until August 1983.

Rudolph Penner, who served in President Gerald Ford’s administration, was appointed by a divided Congress to be Rivlin’s successor. Then-Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) and then-president pro tempore Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) made the final decision.