The Congressional Budget Office says the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under debate in the Senate would add $256 billion to deficits over 10 years. Negotiators had claimed that the $550 billion spending package would be fully offset, but it's been clear that their financing proposals wouldn't cover all the costs in the official score.
Since the result was largely anticipated, the CBO report may not swing many votes – or at least not enough to affect passage of the bill. One of the main Republican negotiators of the bill, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, has reportedly been persuaded that the infrastructure package would not add as much to the deficit as the CBO was expected to report, and other Republican negotiators are expected to follow his lead.
“The new spending under the bill is offset through a combination of new revenue and savings, some of which is reflected in the formal CBO score and some of which is reflected in other savings and additional revenue identified in estimates, as CBO is limited in what it can include in its formal score,” Portman said in a joint statement released with fellow negotiator Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Still, budget watchers are bound to be disappointed after calling for any new spending to be paid for in full. “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-UT).
What comes next: A vote on the bill is expected in the next few days. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who said he will oppose the bill, predicted it will advance. “I think the infrastructure bill will pass,” he said, adding, “It’s got enough support.”