Finance

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.

{mosads}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 Boehner (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.

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