Senate Democrats, frustrated their increasingly costly agenda is hitting some speedbumps (also known as business as usual), are considering a novel—and dangerous—solution to their legislative logjam: sub out the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director for someone sympathetic to their policy goals. Mother Jones broke the news:
Behind closed doors, Democrats in Congress are considering a drastic move to make their push around those rules easier: Fire the director of the Congressional Budget Office, the scorekeeping agency that measures the federal budget impact of pending legislation. The interest stems from some Democrats’ disappointment over the CBO’s recent scores of the party’s top priorities and a desire to see the office led by an economist willing to give Democrats the scores they’re looking for to push Biden’s agenda over the finish line. Such a move would make the ostensibly nonpartisan office a wonky pawn in the three-dimension chess game Democrats hope to play to push Biden’s agenda over the finish line.
It is not unusual for Congress to change disliked rules. Both Democratic and Republican Senators have done this to hustle nominees through without that pesky three-fifths rule to avoid a filibuster. In 2001, Senate Republicans booted long-time Parliamentarian Bob Dove over a procedural rule on tax cuts. To get around the “72-hour rule,” which requires legislative text be available for 72 hours for public review before floor action, House leaders have gone so far as to create time itself ex nihilo in order to proclaim “days” have passed and the vote has ripened. Likewise, both chambers are regularly guilty of letting the Rules Committee “deem” legislation as passed despite never receiving a single floor vote. Anywhere else, this kind of behavior would be considered underhanded at best.
Maybe this new idea—to replace the ump mid-game for calling balls and strikes—will finally have Washington-watchers crying foul.