Scott Perry and fellow Freedom Caucus-ers tried to gut CBO
York County's congressman recently joined fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus in an unsuccessful attempt to gut the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The office provides Congress with independent analysis of various budgetary and economic issues but has recently earned the ire of many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, for its estimates on various bills to repeal and replace "Obamacare."
The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, predicted the American Health Care Act, which the House passed in May, would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion during the coming decade but increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million in 2026 relative to current laws.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, co-sponsored amendment proposals by fellow Freedom Caucus members Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia, and Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, to eliminate the CBO's Budget Analysis Division, which comprises 89 positions with salaries aggregating $15 million, according to the amendments.
The proposal by Meadows, who serves as chairman of the caucus, offered that the CBO director should carry out its budget analysis duties by facilitating and compiling scoring data from the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institute and Urban Institute, which are all private D.C.-based think tanks.
Both amendments, offered onto the House's Department of Defense Appropriations Act, failed to pass.
"The fiscal analysis provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been consistently incorrect and has had numerous detrimental policy implications, not just on health care, but on a variety of policies over the years," Perry said in a statement.
He continued: "This is directly limiting our ability to address the pressing issues facing the American people. It was disappointing that this amendment failed; however, this is indicative of the common sense reforms needed to correct some of these shortcomings."
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed the amendments, according to The Washington Post.
“The CBO is a long-respected institution whose rigorous analysis and reports are critical resources for Congress as we consider legislation that affects the lives of the American people,” he said. “These attacks should be beneath Congress. They need to stop.”
The House passed the full bill, titled the Make America Secure Act, on Monday, July 31, and it has moved on to the Senate for consideration.
Perry expressed support for the $788 billion spending package, which includes a 2.4 percent wage increase for military personnel, $78.3 billion for Veteran Affairs and $1.6 billion for a border wall.
Other amendments: Perry had sponsored or cosponsored several other unsuccessful amendments to the bill, including prohibiting funds from being used to compile reports on climate change (not voted on), prohibiting funds to establish a "Space Corps" (withdrawn) and prohibiting funds from being used for medical treatment related to gender transition (not voted on).
Trump announced on Twitter recently that he was banning transgender people from serving in the military, citing "the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
A study released last year by RAND Corp., a nonpartisan research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges, estimated that extending gender transition-related health care coverage would increase costs by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures.
Perry, a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard and an Iraq war veteran, said he didn’t support an outright ban on transgender troops. But current Pentagon policies are “insufficient to address the pragmatic and logistical issues surrounding service of transgender individuals,” according to Perry.
Despite Trump’s announcement, transgender individuals still will be allowed to serve until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has received Trump’s direction to change the policy and figured out how to implement it, the nation’s top military officer said.
Perry did have one amendment make its way into the final bill that moved $15 million from the Department of Energy's administrative fund to its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to bolster funding for hydro power.