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A Senate official gives Democrats a tool to bypass filibuster on some bills.  Here is what it means.


WASHINGTON – A key Senate official ruled on Monday that Democrats can use a budget process to get crucial bills, such as infrastructure, through the blocked chamber, according to the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., office.

Opinion is increasing the number of ways Democrats can move their agenda forward, like President Joe Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Republicans have criticized the proposal from the start, with Conservatives seeing it as going too far beyond traditional infrastructure spending and comparing its climate measures to the Green New Deal.

After: Biden presents big infrastructure plan, but Republicans once viewed it as going too far

Reaching 60 votes in the Senate seemed grim from the starting line: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., Said last week that he would fight the plan, suggesting from the start that he didn’t there would be no Republican support.

But the process – budget reconciliation – would allow Democrats to skip key procedural hurdles, like getting 60 votes, on budget-related items like the infrastructure bill, the next element of Biden’s “Build Better” agenda.

As part of this process, with the Senate tied 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris would be able to break the tie and pass the legislation.

After: How does Biden plan to get an infrastructure plan through Congress?

Usually, the Senate needs 60 votes to outdo a filibuster, which means 10 Republicans would have to join every Democrat and Independents who meet with Democrats to pass legislation.

A spokesperson for Schumer said Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough “indicated that a revised budget resolution may contain reconciliation instructions.”

Put simply, it allows Democrats to bypass the filibuster and use reconciliation again in FY2021 – and several times next year.

Senators usually only use one opportunity to pass a budget resolution for the fiscal year. But MacDonough’s move means Democrats can change the budget resolution recently used for the COVID stimulus bill by attaching another set of reconciliation instructions to it.

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“This confirms the leader’s interpretation of the budget law and gives Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues,” Schumer spokesman continued.

He stressed that “no decision has been taken on the legislative path to follow” and “some parameters still need to be worked out”, but “the parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward for this key path to be taken. available to Democrats if necessary. “

After: Biden presents big infrastructure plan, but Republicans once viewed it as going too far

Schumer’s aides had been arguing with MacDonough for weeks about whether they could use Budget Resolution 2021 again. Congress used the budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion US bailout in March without no Republican vote.

It’s unclear what Schumer will do about the infrastructure bill and the next half of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, which arrives later this month.

But budget reconciliation allows Schumer to maximize options for pushing through Biden’s “Build Better” agenda if Republicans attempt to block legislation or “water down a bipartisan deal,” aides said last week.

McConnell made it clear on Monday that Biden’s infrastructure plan is “something we’re not going to do.”

Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, McConnell said Republicans could support a “much more modest” approach, and one that does not rely on corporate tax hikes to pay it off.

A fundamental dividing line is Biden’s effort to pay for infrastructure by reversing former President Donald Trump’s tax breaks for businesses, an iconic achievement of Trump’s White House and its partners in Congress.

A single senator breaking ranks can influence the size of the package: Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., said on Monday that current legislation must “be changed”, especially with regard to increasing the tax rate for companies.

It will be a pivotal vote for a simple majority vote in the divided Senate.

There may be constraints on what may be contained in legislation adopted by budget reconciliation.

For example, supporters of a push to raise the federal hourly minimum wage to $ 15 suffered a significant loss in February after MacDonough ruled the measure could not be considered part of Biden’s COVID relief program.

After: $ 15 minimum wage increase cannot be included in COVID relief legislation

Reconciliation can also turn into a grueling process in which any senator can force a vote on an amendment.

These “vote-a-ramas” can go on for hours, forcing senators to be in the Senate. During the passage of the American Rescue Plan, it lasted almost 24 hours.

Contributing: The Associated Press; Joey Garrison, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senate official gives Democrats way to bypass filibuster on some bills



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