“NO” on Motion to Waive Budget Point of Order re: Veterans Bill
On June 11, the Senate voted to waive all applicable budget points of order on the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230). Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) raised the budget point of order against the bill’s “emergency” designation that allows spending to occur outside existing federal budget caps.
The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia explained:
The Senate would make the expanded health benefit into an entitlement, authorizing “such sums as may be necessary” that could grow on autopilot in the future. The Senate’s emergency designation also prevents Congress from having to prioritize among taxpayer dollars. The spending would simply pile on top of the existing $17.5 trillion debt.
A preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, released less than an hour before the final vote, found the bill’s impact would be significant:
Based on that preliminary assessment, CBO estimates that enacting Title III of S. 2450 would increase direct spending by roughly $35 billion over the 2014-2024 period. CBO has not yet estimated the budgetary effects of the other titles…
The report continued:
Most of the costs incurred to provide that care would be for care financed by other payers, including Medicare; a portion of those costs would thus be offset by savings to the Medicare program. All told, CBO expects that veterans would ultimately seek additional care that would cost the federal government about $50 billion a year, on net. (emphasis added)
By waiving the budget point of order, the Senate allowed the bill’s substantial cost to add to the federal deficit. Without offsetting the new spending, the bill unravels much of the savings achieved through the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Heritage Action opposed the waiving of the budget point of order and included the vote on our legislative scorecard.