The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Thursday released an analysis saying the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a difficult pill to swallow for GOP senators who have insisted on paying for the entire cost of the legislation.
The budget office estimates the bill would increase discretionary spending by $415 billion over 10 years while increasing revenues by $50 billion and decreasing direct spending by $110 billion.
“On net, the legislation would add $256 billion to projected deficits over that period,” CBO reported in its summary.
The bipartisan group of senators who negotiated the bill with the White House says it would spend $550 billion in new money over the current budget baseline. That means just more than half of the new spending — $294 billion — would be offset by pay-fors, according to CBO’s stringent standards for scoring legislation.
Many Republicans have said for weeks that they wanted to see an official analysis showing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill is being “credibly” paid for.
“We need to get a score, so we need to see whether the proposal is credibly paid for,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in late June, when he said he was undecided over whether to support the legislation.
McConnell was one of 17 Republicans who voted last week to proceed to the bill, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll support final passage.
The CBO score backs up conservative Republicans who criticized some of the bill’s methods to fund programs as budget gimmicks.
“It’s easy to get so wrapped up in it and so wrapped up with the things that you see in the bill that are good … sometimes when you get so wrapped up in that, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the pay-fors are fake,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
“As much as half of the pay-fors are just fake,” he added.
CBO’s projection comes as a disappointment to fiscal hawks in Congress but not as a total surprise.