Congress’s bookkeeper suggests cost estimate for Budget Reconciliation may take awhile

November 9, 2021

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) notified lawmakers on November 9th that the cost estimate for the budget reconciliation bill that includes tax increases may take some time to complete, which could delay House action on the legislation.

“The analysis of the bill’s many provisions is complicated, and CBO will provide a cost estimate for the entire bill as soon as practicable,” the CBO stated.

The CBO also stated that estimates for individual provisions could be released in short order, despite the fact that it cannot project when a finalized cost estimate will materialize for the entire bill.

Having this cost estimate is instrumental for Democratic lawmakers who wish to pass the budget reconciliation bill that includes tax increases on individuals and corporations.

CBO’s unclear projection for when it will release the bill's full cost estimate comes on the heels of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stating that the House would postpone a vote on the legislation until those costs are known. She also suggested in a letter to colleagues that the estimate could be ready relatively soon and that her chamber would vote on the bill the week of November 15th.

“[W]hen the House comes back into session the week of November 15th, we will act with a message that is clear and unified to produce results,” she stated.

CBO's unclear deadline for releasing the cost estimate could delay a House vote on the legislation.

Meanwhile, the cost for the tax portion of the reconciliation bill was released by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on November 4th. It shows a net tax increase of roughly $1 trillion between 2022 and 2031.

However, since the release of the JCT estimate the bill’s provisions have changed. Additional changes are expected to occur, especially if the legislation passes the House and travels to the Senate.  

The budget reconciliation bill has been a troubled piece of legislation since its inception. Only Democrats are expected to support it and will take nearly all of them to pass it from Congress.  However, the party is divided over what provisions should be included in the bill and the pursuit to find common ground between Democratic lawmakers has been a dogged challenge for the party’s leaders.

Intraparty disagreements are expected to continue as the legislation makes it way through Congress, but the bill is expected to eventually pass Congress and be enacted into law. It just so happens that right now no one knows what provisions will be in the final product.

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