Republicans in House push for Congressional Budget Office cuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to add an amendment this week to spending legislation that would slash the number of staff at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The budget research office, known as the CBO, has drawn recent Republican criticism, including from the White House, after it concluded that Republican proposals to replace Obamacare would lead to 23 million more Americans being uninsured if they became law.

Representative Mark Meadows, head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said on Monday his colleague Morgan Griffith has offered an amendment to an appropriations bill the House is expected to take up this week that would cut the CBO’s staff of 235 by 89 employees, saving about $15 million.

“They ought to be aggregators,” Meadows said of the CBO at a National Press Club lunch. “There’s plenty of think tanks that are out there. We ought to take a score from Heritage, from AEI (American Enterprise Institute), from Brookings, from the Urban Institute and bring them together for a composite score.”

FILE PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference about the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the American Health Care Act at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 13, 2017.Aaron P. Bernstein

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank based in Washington, as is the American Enterprise Institute. The Brookings Institution and Urban Institute are liberal-leaning think tanks based in Washington.

The CBO is one of a handful of analysis units of Congress whose employees strive for political impartiality, providing dependable and neutral information that lawmakers can use when making often complex budget, tax and other decisions. Its staff includes economists, public policy analysts, lawyers and editors.

In May, after Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney called the CBO’s healthcare analysis “absurd” and questioned its…

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