CBO score on reconciliation bill could take until Thanksgiving as Biden, Pelosi scramble for votes

Handful of moderate Dems are blocking Democrats' reconciliation bill as Pelosi, Biden try to force vote without CBO score

It will take weeks for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to produce a score for Democrats' reconciliation spending bill – potentially until Thanksgiving.

"The Congressional Budget Office has not shown the American people exactly how much this bill will cost as required by the Congressional Budget Act and the rules of our House," Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday as he railed against the reconciliation bill.

"And the CBO reports that they will only arrive as American families get an enormous receipt from their Thanksgiving dinner. There will not be a CBO score until Thanksgiving," he added.

That would slam the brakes on efforts from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Biden to pass the reconciliation bill – and then the bipartisan infrastructure bill – on Friday, assuming that moderate Democrats stick to their demand of waiting for a CBO score before voting on reconciliation.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives to lead Democrats in advancing President Biden's $1.85 trillion-and-growing domestic policy package, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)


According to its website, "On average, it takes about two weeks for CBO to produce a formal estimate, although sometimes estimates are produced the same day they are requested and occasionally the period extends to several weeks."

Notably, the 2,000-plus-page reconciliation bill is larger than most legislation the CBO considers.

But Pelosi Thursday said there is a chance the estimate could come quickly.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during an interview as the House considers President Biden's $1.85 trillion-and-growing domestic policy package at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)

"We have been all along... we've been sending things to CBO. This is not new to them," Pelosi said. "The CBO also has been – they have most of the information now; they have new information."

Pelosi and top Democrats in the House projected optimism late Thursday that they could pass their reconciliation bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill Friday. That optimism faded away as moderate Democrats appeared firm in their demands that the House wait for a CBO score on the reconciliation bill before a vote. 

Even Biden is expected to get in on the action Friday. He said in a press conference that he will be making phone calls to lawmakers asking for their votes today. 

"I'm asking every House member... to vote 'yes' on both of these bills right now. Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate," Biden said at the White House Friday.

President Biden speaks about the COVID-19 relief package in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, March 15, 2021, in Washington. Biden said he will be calling lawmakers about the reconciliation bill Friday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP / AP Images)


The CBO did not respond to Fox News' request for comment Friday.

Democrats can only lose three votes and still pass the reconciliation bill. There are about four or five moderate Democrats who are demanding a CBO score before their vote, despite the fact Pelosi is pointing to a score from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) as evidence enough their bill is fiscally responsible. 

If moderates stick to their demand of a CBO score before voting on reconciliation, that means the Senate will not get its hands on the bill until almost December. Then, Democrats will also be up against deadlines to fund the government, pass a defense authorization bill, and avoid a debt default.