Cornyn Asks for CBO Score of Build Back Better without Gimmicks


Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) speaks during the second day of the U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing before on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 13, 2020. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Senator John Cornyn today asked the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to provide a score of Democrats’ Build Back Better legislation with all provisions made permanent. In a letter to the CBO director and the chief of staff of the JCT, the Texas Republican writes, “I am concerned that the CBO score of H.R. 5376 is artificially low because of a number of timing gimmicks. Specifically, the legislation includes a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations of several expensive programs, which disguise the true cost of making these policies permanent.”

He doesn’t accuse the CBO or JCT of being biased; on the contrary, he thanks them for their nonpartisan analysis. He’s right to do so. The CBO and JCT make mistakes, but they are not systematically biased against one party. Democrats complained mightily about Republicans using arbitrary sunsets and expirations in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. Both parties know the rules of budget scoring and use them to their advantage when writing legislation.

The CBO and JCT work for Congress. It’s entirely reasonable for members of Congress to ask them for specific reports. One user of their services has been Bernie Sanders, who has requested CBO reports on issues such as prescription drug prices and tax avoidance by the wealthy. It’s good to have an independent, nonpartisan research body that members of Congress can go to for answers to specific questions.

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