Blue Dog Leadership: Freedom Caucus Leadership Needs to Face the Facts, Back Off the CBO
Tonight, when the House of Representatives considers H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018, it will also vote on 72 amendments to the bill. Two of those amendments, added by members of the House Freedom Caucus, are intended to significantly weaken the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—a nonpartisan organization that provides a crucial check on both Republican and Democratic policymakers in Washington.
The first amendment would eliminate CBO’s Budget Analysis Division, which produces hundreds of cost estimates of legislation that Congress depends on every year. The second amendment would cut over half of CBO’s funding, from $48.5 million to $23 million. These amendments follow the publishing of an op-ed written by leaders of the Freedom Caucus harshly criticizing CBO and questioning its independence.
The co-chairs of the fiscally responsible Blue Dog Coalition—Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)—issued the following statement in response to Freedom Caucus leadership targeting the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO):
“This is dangerous, and there’s no other way to describe it. The Congressional Budget Office is a nonpartisan organization that is filled with patriots who put the facts and transparency first for the American people. They aren’t swayed by the political rhetoric on either side of the spectrum. Because of that, both Republicans and Democrats have seen CBO reports deliver cost impacts that might not be in their favor—and that’s how it should be. Without the CBO, lawmakers in Washington would be blind to the effects of the policies they are developing. Just like you wouldn’t drive a car while blindfolded, you shouldn’t develop legislation that affects the lives of all Americans without knowing the real consequences and costs. As a society, we must accept facts as they are, whether they’re in our favor or not. What the leadership and members of the Freedom Caucus are doing is unacceptable and dangerous. If you find yourself attacking the umpire because you don’t like the balls and strikes that are being called, it’s a sign that you’re losing. At the end of the day, we are talking about taxpayer dollars and its impact on our nation’s deficit.”