CBO Is Straining Under The Weight Of Health Care Requests
The Congressional Budget Office is feeling the strain of dealing with the high-profile requests for scoring health care legislation as Democrats move toward releasing a reconciliation bill, "a stressor that may have contributed to the recent incorrect scoring of a draft House provision," Politico reports.
"CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told House Appropriations Legislative subcommittee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) that his staff has been working '100-hour weeks' and cannot keep up with the budgetary and economic impact queries lawmakers have about health care. 'Analysis of competing health care proposals absorbed a huge share of the agency's resources, and CBO analysts in that area have worked flat out for more than a year,' Elmendorf said today. 'Considerable congressional interest in analysis of health care issues is likely to persist and the almost round-the-clock schedule maintained this past year by CBO's current staff cannot be maintained much longer.'" (Lovley, 3/17).
The Washington Times: "CBO and the much larger GAO are seeking significant budget increases in fiscal 2011 to handle the workload from Mr. Obama's expansive first-term proposals on health care, economic recovery, global warming and other issues, which Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to push through Congress. With about 20 percent of its staff dedicated to health care, the past year has been brutal for CBO. And Mr. Elmendorf said whether a bill passes or not, they expect the workload to remain high since lawmakers will continue to offer new bills on the subject" (Dinan, 3/18).
The Christian Science Monitor reports on the pressures that the health care overhaul is placing on both the CBO and the office of the Senate parliamentarian. "The complex, highly partisan closing push for healthcare reform is, in many ways, coming down to two Washington institutions whose devotion to nonpartisanship and a mastery of the arcane make them virtually inside-the-Beltway priesthoods. Despite the enormous responsibility now heaped on these two offices, however, there has been barely a peep from either side of the aisle accusing either of mismanagement or partisanship. Even in highly partisan times, both retain a reputation for independence and a mastery of highly specialized data without peer" (Chaddock, 3/17).