Yarmuth Speaks Out on House Floor Against GOP Amendment Targeting the CBO
Washington, D.C.— Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, today gave a speech on the House floor against an amendment that would cut the budget of the Congressional Budget Office by roughly half.
I rise today in strong opposition to this amendment and urge my colleagues to reject it.
Some Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration are engaged in a steadily escalating campaign to tear down the Congressional Budget Office and anyone else who does not tell them what they want to hear. This amendment is a direct assault, eliminating half of CBO’s budget.
The CBO is our impartial referee. Its rigorous work is indispensable for Congress as we consider legislation that impacts the lives of the American people. This amendment is not good for democracy, and it is not consistent with the principles of good government. Republicans claim to care about fiscal responsibility, but this amendment would destroy the office we rely on to help us meet that standard.
My Republican colleagues are willing to compromise the integrity of this House solely because they cannot defend their bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. They cannot effectively explain to their constituents why they voted to leave more than 20 million Americans uninsured and dramatically increase the costs of insurance for millions more. They are unable to justify cutting $1 trillion dollars from Medicaid, and jeopardizing care for seniors in nursing homes, children, and families struggling to make ends meet. And that they are doing all of this to provide cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
This amendment is a clear attempt to divert attention from that reality. To hide the truth from the American people – and it will set a dangerous precedent.
Look as students we would all like to grade our own papers. But we can’t do that in Congress. We have to have somebody impartial who will grade them for us and tell us what this means to our budget and to the American people.
Congress created CBO to give us our own source of budgetary information and expertise, so we would not have to rely on Administration estimates. CBO improves our ability to protect the “the power of the purse.” And for more than 40 years, the CBO has steadfastly fulfilled its mission, providing impartial analysis and expertise to inform our decision-making. The CBO Director and all personnel are appointed to their positions without regard to political affiliation, solely based on their ability and qualifications. They show no allegiance or deference to any political ideology or party when preparing their analyses.
It is all too easy these days to take refuge in information that tells us only what we want to hear, but that does not lead to sound policy. CBO does not exist to give us the information that we want to hear. Its job is to give us the information that we need to make informed, responsible decisions. It is one of few institutions in Washington that serves that role.
It is beneath the Congress to attack the CBO, which is only doing its job, and it should be embarrassing to my Republican colleagues that they are launching these attacks simply because they do not have the courage to defend the damaging effects of their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This needs to stop.