Budget Reconciliation

Explainer

Why Democrats’ $3.1 trillion budget is so hard to stop

By Shannon Longworth (Reporter), Seth Feldman (Producer)

With Senate Democrats’ efforts continually blocked by the filibuster, their new infrastructure investment looks more promising. It qualifies for budget reconciliation–a process that only requires 50 votes to pass.

SHANNON: DEMOCRATS ARE TOUTING THEIR NEW 3.5 TRILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT PLAN – AND

REPUBLICANS HAVE LITTLE CHANCE OF SHOOTING IT DOWN.

THE REASON: BUDGET RECONCILIATION.

LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT.

BUDGET RECONCILIATION IS A SPECIAL PROCESS THAT MAKES LEGISLATION EASIER TO PASS IN CONGRESS.

IT’S SIGNIFICANT IN THE SENATE BECAUSE IT’S ESSENTIALLY FILIBUSTER-PROOF.

IT’S DIFFERENT THAN THE REGULAR PROCESS FOR SENATE BILLS, WHICH NEEDS A 60-VOTE MAJORITY AND IS SUBJECT TO THE “FILIBUSTER.”

RECONCILIATION ONLY NEEDS A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF 50 VOTES  – WHICH THE DEMOCRATS ALREADY HAVE,

THANKS TO VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS’S TIE-BREAKING VOTE.

A RECONCILIATION BILL DOESN’T EVEN NEED THE PRESIDENT’S SIGNATURE, WHICH ISN’T AN ISSUE THIS TIME AROUND SINCE BIDEN IS A DEMOCRAT.

SO WHY NOT USE BUDGET RECONCILIATION FOR EVERYTHING? THE SENATE COULD QUICKLY PUSH BILLS THROUGH.

THE SHORT ANSWER IS: YOU CAN’T. THERE ARE LIMITATIONS.

ONLY BILLS THAT CHANGE GOVERNMENT SPENDING OR REVENUE CAN BE INCLUDED.

THAT MEANS LAWMAKERS CAN’T ADD NEW POLICIES.

THEY CAN ONLY WORK WITH WHAT’S ALREADY INCLUDED IN THE ANNUAL CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET RESOLUTION.

ANOTHER LIMITATION? SOME BIG TICKET ITEMS CAN’T BE CHANGED IN A RECONCILIATION.

FOR EXAMPLE, SOCIAL SECURITY.

ALL THAT SAID,  YOU WOULD THINK THIS BUDGET SEEMS LIKE A DONE DEAL FOR THE DEMOCRATS. BUT IT’S NOT.

THREE REASONS:

ONE – DEMS NEED ALL 50 OF THEIR SENATORS ON BOARD, WHICH WON’T BE EASY.

THEY MAY BE IN THE SAME PARTY, BUT THEY DON’T AGREE ON ALL THINGS BUDGETARY.

TWO: THE VOTE-ARAMA. YOU HEARD ME. IT’S A THING.

A VOTE-ARAMA KICKS IN AFTER 50 HOURS OF DEBATE, WHICH IS REQUIRED FOR BUDGET BILLS.

DURING A VOTE-ARAMA, SENATORS CAN OFFER ENDLESS AMENDMENTS WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DEBATE.

THREE: THE SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN–THE NONPARTISAN UMPIRE OF SORTS–

SHE CAN SHOOT DOWN PARTS OF THE PROPOSAL THAT DON’T QUALIFY FOR A RECONCILIATION.

DID WE GET THAT STRAIGHT?

LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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With Senate Democrats’ efforts continually blocked by the filibuster, their new infrastructure investment looks more promising. It qualifies for budget reconciliation–a process that only requires 50 votes to pass.

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