Senate Parliamentarian rules in favor of Democratic Reconciliation Effort.

WASH­ING­TON—The Sen­ate's non­par­ti­san par­lia­men­tar­ian Mon­day ruled in fa­vor of a De­mo­c­ra­tic ef­fort to pass ad­di­tional leg­is­la­tion through a process called rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), open­ing the door for De­moc­rats to ap­prove more fis­cal mea­sures along party lines in the Sen­ate this year.

De­moc­rats have used rec­oncil­i­a­tion once this year to pass the $1.9 tril­lion coro­n­avirus re­lief pack­age, and law­mak­ers had ex­pected to be lim­ited to us­ing it only one more time this year. With the par­lia­men­tar­i­an's new ad­vice to law­mak­ers, De­moc­rats could now pos­si­bly use it a third time to skirt the 60-vote thresh­old nec­es­sary for most leg­is­la­tion to pass in the Sen­ate.

"This con­firms the leader's in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Bud­get Act and al­lows De­moc­rats ad­di­tional tools to im­prove the lives of Amer­i­cans if Re­pub­li­can ob­struc­tion con­tin­ues," the spokesman for Mr. Schumer said.

The spokesman said Mr. Schumer hasn't de­cided whether to move for­ward with us­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion again and that "some pa­ra­me­ters still need to be worked out" around its use.

The rul­ing will give De­mocrats more room to ma­neu­ver to pass Pres­i­dent Biden's agenda, in­clud­ing his re­cently an nounced $2.3 tril­lion in-frastructure plan. The White House is ex­pected to roll out an­other large pack­age in the com­ing weeks, this time fo­cused on child-care and an­tipoverty ef­forts.

A spokesman for Sen­ate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) didn't re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Re­pub­li­cans have widely crit­i­cized the $2.3 tril­lion plan, at­tack­ing its wide scope and pro­posed tax in­creases on cor­po­ra­tions. The hard­en­ing GOP op­po­si­tion had left De­moc-rats al­ready pre­paring to use rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to pass the in­frastructure plan, pos­si­bly com­bin­ing it with the com­ing an­tipoverty leg­is­la­tion to mus­cle a huge pack­age through Con­gress along party lines.

Un­der the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process, law­mak­ers pass a bud­get res­o­lu­tion that then pro­vides com­mit­tees with in­struc­tions to craft leg­is­la­tion meet­ing the bud­get's tar­get. Be­cause bud­get res­o­lu­tions are tied to the fis­cal year, law­mak­ers had been lim­ited to us­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion once per fis­cal year.

But the par­lia­men­tar­ian ad­vised law­mak­ers that they can edit the un­der­ly­ing bud­get res­o­lu­tion, giv­ing com­mit­tees ad­di­tional in­struc­tions for meet­ing the new tar­get. It is un­clear if there will be a limit on the num­ber of times law­mak­ers can edit a bud­get res­o­lu­tion each fis­cal year.

For the $1.9 tril­lion re­lief plan, De­moc­rats ap­proved rec­on­cil­i­a­tion leg­is­la­tion tied to the bud­get for fis­cal year 2021, which ends Sept. 30. In­stead of turn­ing to the fis­cal year 2022 bud­get for the next bill, they could now likely pass at least one other piece of leg­is­la­tion tied to a re­vised bud­get for fis­cal year 2021.

While rec­on­cil­i­a­tion en­ables law­mak­ers to avoid the fil­i­buster in the Sen­ate and pass leg­is­lation along party lines, it lim­its what mea­sures law­mak­ers can ap­prove. Pro­vi­sions passed through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion must re­late di­rectly to the bud­get, bar­ring many pol­icy plans from con­sid­er­a­tion. Spend­ing and tax mea­sures are gen­er­ally el­i­gi­ble to be in­cluded in rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Ear­lier this year, De­moc­rats had sought to raise the min­imum wage to $15 an hour as part of the $1.9 tril­lion re­lief pack­age. The par­lia­men­tar­ian ul­ti­mately ruled that rais­ing the min­i­mum wage had a bud­getary im­pact only in­ci­den­tal to its pol­icy aim, forc­ing law­mak­ers to cut the pro­vi­sion from the fi­nal bill. Some De­moc­rats had pushed for lead­er­ship to ig­nore the par­lia-men­tar­i­an's rul­ing, while other De­moc­rats had said they op­posed rais­ing the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour.

Some el­e­ments of Mr. Biden's $2.3 tril­lion in­frastructure pro­posal may face a sim­i­lar fate, ac­cord­ing to law­mak­ers and aides, in­clud­ing some of its pro­posed la­bor pro­tec­tions.

Andrew Duehren, WSJ, April 5, 2021


April 6, 2021Duehren

Voices4America Post Script. The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled the infrastructure bill can pass on a 51-50 basis without the 60 votes required to stop the damn filibuster. Call your Senators and tell them to support Joe's bill. Joe and Kamala are making America great. I cry with joy. #ILoveJoe

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