Budget Reconciliation

Explainer

Why Democrats might not need Republicans to pass their $3.5 trillion budget bill

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

Two spending bills are on deck for the Senate on Tuesday–a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and a $3.5 trillion budget plan. While the former has bipartisan support, the latter appears unpopular among Republicans.

With Senate Democrats’ efforts continually blocked by the filibuster, the $3.5 trillion bill could still pass because it qualifies for budget reconciliation. The process 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.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
alevitt@hugollc.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:19am CT

Having transparency around the legislative and parliamentary process is critically important for a high functioning democracy. While people can certainly debate whether our democracy is high functioning in these partisan and polarized times, clear and cogent explanations of parliamentary process like this piece are very helpful. Nice job!

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
baronswalk@icloud.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:16am CT

For a decade, we have lived in a world where McConnell has either blocked anything that he does not want to happen with whatever contrived excuse - Merritt Garland; or has rammed through whatever he wants to happen with no concern for his own precedents (he would make a really poor Supreme Court justice) - Amy Coney Barrett. While we can admire his savvy, his hypocrisy and cynicism has been a "hard pill to swallow". Thank goodness for budget reconciliation. It explains the expression on his face. He is even more dour than usual.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
alevitt@hugollc.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:19am CT

Having transparency around the legislative and parliamentary process is critically important for a high functioning democracy. While people can certainly debate whether our democracy is high functioning in these partisan and polarized times, clear and cogent explanations of parliamentary process like this piece are very helpful. Nice job!

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
baronswalk@icloud.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:16am CT

For a decade, we have lived in a world where McConnell has either blocked anything that he does not want to happen with whatever contrived excuse - Merritt Garland; or has rammed through whatever he wants to happen with no concern for his own precedents (he would make a really poor Supreme Court justice) - Amy Coney Barrett. While we can admire his savvy, his hypocrisy and cynicism has been a "hard pill to swallow". Thank goodness for budget reconciliation. It explains the expression on his face. He is even more dour than usual.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

Comments are still pending approval. Rate this story to add your own thoughts below.

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Your Rating

Rating closes in 4 days

Total User Rating

eye icon

Rate to reveal

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

comment bubbles

Two spending bills are on deck for the Senate on Tuesday–a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and a $3.5 trillion budget plan. While the former has bipartisan support, the latter appears unpopular among Republicans.

With Senate Democrats’ efforts continually blocked by the filibuster, the $3.5 trillion bill could still pass because it qualifies for budget reconciliation. The process only requires 50 votes to pass.

Community Rating

Community ratings are revealed after you rate the story.

lock

Watch the video to unlock rating

Rate the bias

Keep us honest! Let us know if you thought this video was neutral or biased.

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
alevitt@hugollc.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:19am CT

Having transparency around the legislative and parliamentary process is critically important for a high functioning democracy. While people can certainly debate whether our democracy is high functioning in these partisan and polarized times, clear and cogent explanations of parliamentary process like this piece are very helpful. Nice job!

Straight Arrow Bias Meter™ rating: neutral
baronswalk@icloud.comAugust 10, 2021, 11:16am CT

For a decade, we have lived in a world where McConnell has either blocked anything that he does not want to happen with whatever contrived excuse - Merritt Garland; or has rammed through whatever he wants to happen with no concern for his own precedents (he would make a really poor Supreme Court justice) - Amy Coney Barrett. While we can admire his savvy, his hypocrisy and cynicism has been a "hard pill to swallow". Thank goodness for budget reconciliation. It explains the expression on his face. He is even more dour than usual.