Critical Condition

CBO? Maybe So, Maybe Not

From Politico:

The Congressional Budget Office sent an email to Hill staffers on Wednesday alerting them to the release today of a cost estimate on the Senate-passed bill. The CBO scored the Senate bill in December, but reconciliation requires a score on the legislation as passed, which the CBO says won’t be materially different than its December estimate. But that’s not the score everything hangs on. The crucial cost estimate will be for the reconciliation bill that bridges the differences between the House and Senate passed bills. The CBO could send that score to lawmakers as soon as today with the House Budget Committee acting on it as early as Friday, according to a source familiar with the situation. If the House can start the process before week’s end, it puts them on schedule to try and pass a bill by the president’s March 18 deadline. But there are still outstanding questions, such as how to handle the abortion issue and whether to include student lending reform in the sidecar bill. House Democratic leadership looks to be gauging how many of the Stupak Dozen could be convinced to vote for the Senate language. And Democrats appear to be backing off the idea of rolling lending reform into the reconciliation bill for fear of losing votes on the underlying health reform package. There’s still plenty of game left to play with not much time remaining on the clock.

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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