The House and Senate Budget committees keep churning out annual budget resolutions for approval by both houses. And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) continues to produce its expert non-partisan cost estimates on legislation as part of its scorekeeping responsibilities.
But even that highly respected source is losing its cachet as evidenced in House Speaker Johnson’s rejection of CBO’s scoring of the $14.3 billion in the Israeli security assistance supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 6126). The Speaker included a comparable cut in Internal Revenue Service enforcement monies to offset the money for Israel. The CBO ruled instead that reducing IRS tax collection capabilities would reduce revenues by $26.8 billion over the next decade and increase deficits by $12.5 billion. The bill nevertheless passed the House 226-196 on Nov. 2, only to be declared “dead on arrival” in the Senate before it even arrived.
The possibility that the government might one day have to close its doors for lack of funding was not even contemplated when the Budget Act became law. The new budgeting process was supposed to enable Congress to avoid the blind, fiscal fumbling of the past. Yet greater than Congress’s desire for a well-ordered budgeting process is its overriding commitment to satisfy constituent needs and thereby fulfill members’ reelection imperative. Not surprisingly, these drives are all too human.