Key Democrat Says He’s Optimistic on Biden Plan’s Cost Estimate
(Bloomberg) -- A key moderate Democrat said he expects President Joe Biden’s agenda will be fully paid for, but he still wants to see data from Congress’s official scorekeeper before proceeding with a vote.
Representative Josh Gottheimer said he’s optimistic that lawmakers will have the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Build Back Better Act when Congress reconvenes the week of Nov. 15. Waiting for the data has stalled the advance of Biden’s agenda in the House where Gottheimer, along with several other centrists, have said they want assurances the bill is fully offset before voting.
“We need that information to move forward to do the responsible thing,” the New Jersey Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He said he expects the data “to match up with” White House estimates on the bill’s cost.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acquiesced to Gottheimer and other moderates on Friday and delayed a vote on the bill until the CBO data is released, a move that irritated progressives, who say they don’t trust moderates to ultimately vote for the social-spending and tax legislation. Gottheimer and four other Democrats issued a statement committing to vote for the bill if the analysis shows that it is deficit neutral.
Outside estimates, however, indicate that Democrats could come up about $300 billion short. The Penn Wharton Budget Model released estimates last week that said the legislation would increase spending by $1.87 trillion over the 10-year budget window while increasing revenues by only $1.56 trillion.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, who wrote the portion of the bill that includes the tax increase and other offsets, says he thinks the official estimates will show more revenue-raising measures than spending.
“I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t categorize it as extra money, but we might have a little bit more on the edges,” Neal said Friday.
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