Arkansas's U.S. House Members Split On Eliminating Congressional Budget Office Division

Jul 27, 2017

Late Wednesday night Arkansas’s four member U.S. House delegation, all Republican, split over a vote to eliminate the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis division. That’s the non-partisan government office charged with scoring things like healthcare repeal bills for cost and how many would gain or lose insurance coverage.

U.S. Representatives French Hill of central Arkansas and Steve Womack from the northwest part of the state vote 'no.' Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs and Rick Crawford of Jonesboro voted 'yes.' The measure failed on a bi-partisan vote with 120 Republicans joining 189 Democrats in opposition. 116 Republicans supported cutting the CBO's staff by about one-third and shifting the duties of the 89-person analysis division to the director's office. 

The vote marked the first attempt to utilize the Holman rule. Roll Call explains the procedural maneuver," Under the Holman rule, any member can bypass the committees of jurisdiction and use the appropriations process to offer amendments directing cuts to government staff or salaries."

More from Roll Call summarizes the arguments made before Wednesday's vote:

“I think it’s dangerous anytime you can punish individual employees just because you disagree with them. It’s a temptation that can be easily abused,” said Rep. Tom Cole, who led an unsuccessful effort to strip the Holman rule from the House rules package earlier this year.

The Oklahoma Republican said [Morgan] Griffith and the other Freedom Caucus members co-sponsoring his amendment are within their rights to offer it under the rules and he is fine holding a vote on it. However, Cole said he plans to vote against it.

Cole said Griffith’s amendment exemplifies his issue with the Holman rule and could help make the case, come next year, for ensuring it is not permanently resurrected after the one-year trial period is over.

“To me, this is really, it’s petty and arbitrary,” he said. “We’re not having a hearing. [The CBO employees] are not getting a chance to make their case. You don’t fire somebody that is sincerely doing their job just because you disagree with what they say.”

KUAR has reached out to U.S. Reps. Crawford, Hill, Westerman, and Womack for comment.