The vote by the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 277, “The American Health Care Reform Act” violated the law. The law was passed without Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “scoring” estimates of the bill’s costs and impacts. The bill was simply rushed to a vote before the CBO scoring could be done.
Notably, similar scoring on the prior version of the bill in March found that 24 million would lose health insurance, a blockbuster determination that turned public opinion against that bill compelling Republicans to pull it from the floor and cancel the scheduled vote on it. This time around, the Republicans were “smart” enough to not allow such a backlash as they railroaded the Bill’s passage before any such inconvenient scoring by the CBO could occur.
However, such scoring is required by law. Section 308 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 mandates that the report to Congress for any bill providing an increase or decrease in tax revenue or tax expenditures “shall contain” the CBO estimates of how the bill effect the budget.
Sec. 308. [2 U.S.C. 639] (a) Reports on Legislation
Providing New Budget Authority or Providing an Increase or
Decrease in Revenues or Tax Expenditures.--
(1) Whenever a committee of either House reports to
its House a bill or joint resolution, or committee
amendment thereto, providing new budget authority
(other than continuing appropriations) or providing an
increase or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures
for a fiscal year (or fiscal years), the report
accompanying that bill or joint resolution shall
contain a statement, or the committee shall make
available such a statement in the case of an approved
committee amendment which is not reported to its House,
prepared after consultation with the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office--
(A) comparing the levels in such measure to
the appropriate allocations in the reports
submitted under section 302(b) for the most
recently agreed to concurrent resolution on the
budget for such fiscal year (or fiscal years);
(B) containing a projection by the
Congressional Budget Office of how such measure
will affect the levels of such budget
authority, budget outlays, revenues, or tax
expenditures under existing law for such fiscal
year (or fiscal years) and each of the four
ensuing fiscal years, if timely submitted
before such report is filed; and
(C) containing an estimate by the
Congressional Budget Office of the level of new
budget authority for assistance to State and
local governments provided by such measure, if
timely submitted before such report is filed.
The bill eliminates various taxes associated with current law (e.g. the tax penalty for not purchasing insurance) and thereby provides for a decrease in tax revenues. We know that. We don’t know how much because Republicans broke the law by not allowing the CBO to score the bill.