Budget reconciliation

Senate Parliamentarian Ruling May Allow Democrats to Pass Two More Spending Bills by Simple Majority

Photo Credit: Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, handed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a big win on Monday evening. A new ruling may allow Senate Democrats to bypass the filibuster on two additional spending bills. In other words, Schumer needs only a simple majority to ram through two more bloated spending bills without a single Republican vote.

This is bad news for America.

Via a parliamentary procedure called budget reconciliation, which allows the Senate to pass “certain tax, spending, and debt limit” bills by a simple majority vote, the Biden Administration recently rammed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Reconciliation, however, has its limits. Until now, this procedure could only be used twice in a fiscal year. MacDonough’s decision will likely provide Democrats with a third opportunity.

Knowing that the filibuster, which requires at least 60 votes to pass legislation, would otherwise prevent him from passing his socialist agenda, Schumer had been searching for a way to change the rules.

Last week, it was reported that Schumer and his aides were eyeing Section 304 of the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1974 which covers “Permissible revisions of concurrent resolutions on the budget.” Their “interpretation” of the language is that they are entitled to use reconciliation to pass at least one additional spending bill.

Asked at that time to explain Schumer’s objective, Axios’ Mike Allen wrote: “Top policy aides to Schumer recently argued to the Senate parliamentarian that revising this year’s budget resolution could ‘trigger an additional set of reconciliation instructions,’ which would allow for further 50-50 votes that are decided by Vice President Harris.”

“It’s not clear how many additional reconciliation opportunities this theory would open up, But the conventional wisdom is that Democrats have just one more shot at reconciliation this year, and this route would give them at least one more,” added Allen.

Monday night’s ruling means that the parliamentarian agrees with Schumer’s interpretation and that Democrats may be able to use reconciliation to pass at least one more budget busting bill this year than they had anticipated.

Following the ruling, Schumer’s spokesman Justin Goodman issued a statement which read: “The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.”

If needed?

Schumer is currently focused on Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill for which there is no Republican support. (Beyond the infrastructure bill, Schumer is looking at an economic recovery bill.)

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, is currently giving the Majority leader some cause for agita. Manchin, who has been adamant in his opposition to eliminating the filibuster, announced on Monday that he opposes the infrastructure bill’s proposed corporate income tax hike. The current top income tax rate for corporations stands at 21 percent. This bill would raise the top corporate rate to 28 percent. Manchin favors a 25 percent rate. Prior to President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, this rate had been 35 percent.

Republicans acknowledge that improvements to the country’s infrastructure are called for, however, they object to the price tag of this bill. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told Fox News Sunday a more appropriate amount for an infrastructure bill would be $600 billion.

If ever there was a time for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to go “scorched earth,” it’s now.

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