A cadre of moderate House Democrats is demanding Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold off a vote on President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate bill until a proper economic analysis is completed.
In a letter to Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, five moderates in her caucus demanded the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation properly vet the 1,684-page bill before she puts it to a vote.
It’s the latest wrinkle in Democratic leaders’ attempt to solidify their members and force Mr. Biden’s agenda through Congress.
Both the CBO and the Joint Committee are nonpartisan fiscal watchdogs that are responsible for analyzing — or “scoring” — the economic and budgetary impacts of legislation.
“We cannot lend our support to advancing the [bill] until we have had a chance to review these scores which provide the true cost of the legislation,” the moderate Democrats wrote.
The lawmakers also noted that an official CBO score will be needed for the legislation to pass the evenly split Senate through the budget reconciliation procedure. Reconciliation allows some spending and tax measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass via a simple majority of 51-votes.
The lawmakers also urged Mrs. Pelosi to be open and transparent about everything included in the multi-trillion-dollar package. As part of the effort, they called on the speaker to make public the full legislative text of the bill at least 72-hours before a vote is to take place.
“While we understand the needs of the nation are great, we believe our job as legislators is to provide the due diligence required to properly serve our constituents,” they wrote. “It is better to get this done right than to needlessly rush its consideration only for our constituents to discover the negative impacts of our unintended consequences.”
Signing on the letter were key moderate Democrats, including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine. The two other Democrats signing on the letter were the leaders of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, Reps. Ed Case of Hawaii and Stephanie Murphy of Florida.
The letter comes as Mrs. Pelosi and far-left Democrats are eyeing an expedited time frame to pass the reconciliation package. Some progressive lawmakers argue that negotiations have already taken too long.
“We’re moving … We just have to lock it down,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the 98-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. “The hope is to go to the [House Rules Committee] tomorrow and then hopefully vote right after that.”
Progressives argue that waiting for a proper CBO score, which could take weeks, will only kill the momentum for a deal. They say the House should pass the bill even before an in-depth analysis is available.
“Different pieces of the legislation have already been scored,” said Mrs. Jayapal. “And so if you put all those together, you have a pretty good sense. Obviously, there has to be a CBO score before the bill goes to the Senate.”
The call for a proper vetting of the package echoes criticisms from Sen. Joe Manchin III, a moderate West Virginia Democrat. He has accused colleagues of engaging in “budget gimmicks” to hide the true cost of the spending package.