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CBO Score Will Ring in Another Round of House Fight

House GOP health plan enters another stage

Ryan has previously been a big proponent of waiting for CBO’s scores. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Ryan has previously been a big proponent of waiting for CBO’s scores. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes this week are off the floor as Capitol Hill awaits a Congressional Budget Office score for House Republicans’ health care plan and the House Budget Committee prepares to mark up the plan.

While a CBO estimate on how much the plan to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law will cost and what effect it would have on those with insurance is expected as soon as Monday, the Budget Committee has scheduled its markup of the legislation for Wednesday morning.

During his colloquy on the floor with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last week to discuss the coming schedule, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., criticized Republicans for pushing elements of the plan through two committees that week without hearings and a cost estimate.

“However you dress it up, it is not regular order. It is trying to jam through a bill,” Hoyer said.

McCarthy called the markup “an open process” and said the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees debated numerous Democratic amendments during all-night markups and did not limit those amendments.

Democrats have been hammering the GOP over the process, saying that Republicans’ frequent criticism of the 2010 health law is that it proceeded too quickly, was written behind closed doors and considered in the dead of night.

Republicans have pushed back on those charges, but they released their bill only after restricting access to it, and roughly 40 hours before their markups started, and before there was a CBO score.

Even some Senate Republicans, like Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, say the House is moving too fast. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there needs to be a CBO score before the legislation is considered.

Democrats have been all too happy to point to now-Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s June 23, 2009 letter to the CBO that took the majority Democrats to task during the debate over the 2010 law.

“Before Congress changes health care as the American people know it, we must know the likely consequences of the House Democrat legislation, including the number of people who would lose access to their current insurance, the number of jobs lost due to business taxes, the number of uninsured people who would obtain coverage, and the extent of the cannibalization of employer coverage due to Medicaid expansion,” Ryan wrote.

Republicans have answered that the CBO score will be in hand before the Budget Committee markup.

And, depending on the nonpartisan budget office’s estimate, Republicans are already handicapping that score.

“We’re not going to wait on some unelected bureaucrats to provide relief from Obamacare,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise said during the Energy and Commerce Committee’s marathon markup. Such comments have been echoed from the White House on down.

Democrats have taken note.

“There’s a little campaign to undermine the Congressional Budget Office, which, by the way, is appointed by the speaker,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at Friday’s Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

“This is their Congressional Budget Office. Now they’re like, well who cares about the Congressional Budget Office?” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said Democrats would continue to use delay tactics as the health bill makes it way through the House but declined to offer details.

“I wouldn’t call them necessarily delay tactics,” Pelosi said. “They are tactics to make sure the American people know what’s in the bill. So, I would say ‘enlightening tactics.’”

“But that takes time, so if you want to call it delay, I understand,” the California Democrat said.

No votes are expected in the House on Monday.

On Tuesday, the House will meet at noon for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the chamber will meet at 10 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business.

On Friday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business, with last votes expected no later than 3 p.m.

Amelia Frappolli and Rema Rahman contributed to this story

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