Congressional Republicans name economist Keith Hall as new budget referee

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Congressional Republicans Friday named economist Keith Hall to serve as Capitol Hill's budget referee as director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

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Hall has served most recently as the chief economist of the U.S. International Trade Commission and earlier was an economic adviser to former GOP president George W. Bush.

The budget office provides cost estimates of legislation and other research to Congress to better inform their policy decisions.

"His vast understanding of economic and labor market policy will be invaluable to the work of CBO and the important role it will continue to play as Congress seeks to enact policies that support a healthy and growing economy," said House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., who led the search for a new CBO director.

Hall replaces Doug Elmendorf, who was appointed by Democrats but earned the respect of lawmakers in both parties. He led CBO as it scored both the controversial Affordable Care Act and House Republicans' contentious plan to overhaul Medicare.

House Republicans have adopted a new rule requiring CBO to take the effect that large-scale legislation has on the economy when providing scores to lawmakers. The agency has largely resisted such "dynamic scoring" but employed it when evaluating the 2013 Senate's overhaul of immigration laws. Then, CBO found that providing legal status to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally would boost the economy and lower the budget deficit.

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The senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee issued a statement that congratulated Hall but failed to endorse him.

"On a daily basis, Congress relies on CBO for nonpartisan, unbiased economic and budgetary analysis," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. "I hope that Director Hall will continue that tradition of independent and professional leadership."