CBO: Budget deal offset after late fixes

CBO: Budget deal offset after late fixes
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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees that the costs of the budget deal struck this week are now fully offset after a series of last-minute tweaks.

The independent congressional scorekeeper had originally determined that the two-year budget pact was $14 billion short of covering the increased funding authorized by the bill.

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But congressional leaders worked late Tuesday to cover the difference by rewriting language related to combat costs and increasing a fee hike on pension plans.

The CBO issued a fresh report less than 24 hours after its first, confirming that the budget deal, which boosts funding by $80 billion over the next two years, is paid for in full.

Bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate reworked the bill late Tuesday to address a “drafting error” that drove up the cost of the bill, according to an aide for Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director MORE (R-Ohio).

The cost difference was largely caused by funding for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, which is normally off-budget, to finance combat operations in the Middle East.

The original draft of the budget accord was written in a way that led the CBO to include the war funding in its calculations, driving up the cost of the bill by roughly $10 billion. The reworked bill passed the House Rules Committee late Tuesday, which is scheduled to receive a House vote later Wednesday.

To close the rest of the gap, lawmakers increased a hike for pension plan premiums, yielding an additional $1.7 billion.

Under the original budget deal, participants in single-employer pension plans would have to pay increased premiums in coming years, currently set for $64 in 2016. Under the budget deal, participants would have to pay $68 in 2017, $73 in 2018, and $78 in 2019.

But under the reworked deal, those fees jump by an additional dollar each year. It also increased fees that would be assessed to underfunded pension funds.