- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Republicans are demanding the Congressional Budget Office conduct a speedy and transparent audit of President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill before Democrats can ram it through on a party-line basis.

In a letter to the CBO’s director, 35 House Republicans said an open and honest accounting of the nearly 1,684-page bill is vital to ensure no “hidden and costly provisions” escape public knowledge.

“This bill is long, expensive [and] will fundamentally alter social programs and tax structures in our country,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “It is essential that each member of Congress have a complete and full understanding of such an expansive piece of legislation prior to voting on it. Members need to make informed decisions on behalf of their constituents.”

House Republicans urged the CBO to act quickly since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is looking to force the bill through Congress as early as this week.

The letter, which was obtained exclusively by the Washington Times, was spearheaded by Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee.

Mr. Burchett said an independent analysis is especially important, given that Democrats are crafting the multitrillion-dollar package behind closed doors and along party lines.  

“It is irresponsible for any member of Congress to support the Build Back Better Act without a nonpartisan report from the CBO,” he said. “American taxpayers deserve to know this information before their elected officials vote on such a consequential bill.”

The letter comes as Mr. Biden and the Democratic congressional leadership are scrambling to wrap up negotiations on the $1.75 trillion bill.

Estimated to raise taxes on 80% of Americans over the next decade, the legislation is poised to be the largest expansion of the federal safety net since the Great Society.

“Any single element of this framework would fundamentally be viewed as a fundamental change in America,” Mr. Biden said. “Taken together, they’re truly consequential.”

Democrats are finalizing the bill without Republican input. Once finished, they plan to ram it through Congress using a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows spending measures to pass the 50-50 Senate by a simple majority.

Republicans say the shadowy process that has dominated the crafting of the bill underscores the need for vetting by the CBO, the nonpartisan federal agency charged with analyzing the economic impact of legislation.

“Here’s what we know, President Biden’s [bill] is thousands of pages long, costs trillions, and is designed to expand the government’s role in American society,” Mr. Burchett said. “What we don’t know are the economic, tax, and fiscal impacts of this massive legislation.”

A handful of moderate Democrats agree and are backing calls for an in-depth analysis of the bill before Mrs. Pelosi rushes forward with a vote.

“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,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey Democrat, wrote earlier this week in a letter to Mrs. Pelosi.

The call for vetting of the package echoes criticism from Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat. He has accused colleagues of engaging in “budget gimmicks” to hide the true cost of the spending package.

Far-left Democrats disagree. They argue that waiting for a proper CBO score, which could take weeks, will 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 Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat. “And so if you put all those together, you have a pretty good sense.”

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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