The bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill currently being debated in the Senate would add $256 billion to the projected federal deficit over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed Thursday.
The CBO report, known in Capitol Hill parlance as the “score” of the bill, came as senators prepared for a series of amendment votes ahead of a potential vote on final passage, which could keep them working on the legislation through this weekend.
The announcement was likely to harden opposition to the measure among fiscal conservative Republicans, who had been skeptical of claims by the bipartisan team of negotiators that the package was be fully paid for.
“Montanans were told and promised that this massive, 2,700 page bill would not increase the debt,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who called the CBO score “absolutely unacceptable, especially at a time when Montana families are already dealing with soaring inflation and skyrocketing prices on everything from gas to groceries.”
“I fully support spending on infrastructure … but it has to be paid for,” added Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) We can’t forget, this is just the first part of Senator [Chuck] Schumer’s $5.5 TRILLION tax and spending spree. We cannot afford this reckless spending. Florida families cannot afford even more inflation and higher prices. The American people deserve better.”
Republican negotiators had sought to fend off that criticism by arguing that some parts of the bill were not scorable by CBO, with some saying the bill would pay for itself by contributing to an improved US economy.
“CBO is like this magic box somewhere that divines these numbers and we’re all kind of holding our breath until we see something that sends the right puff of smoke up,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.), part of the negotiating team, told reporters last month.
“Are we all going to pass out if the score doesn’t come out exactly the way we want? No,” she added. “It may be something that we need to revisit, but it doesn’t mean that we’re done.
The package, which was unveiled last weekend after weeks of bargaining among a bipartisan team of negotiators and the Biden administration, includes includes $550 billion in new spending, with $300 billion allocated for transportation, and $250 billion for broadband, power and water infrastructure.
Even if the bill passes the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has said she won’t hold a vote on it in the House until the upper chamber passes a larger budget resolution with solely Democratic support. The Senate debate on that measure is expected to last well into the fall.