A Senate lawmaker issued a ruling Monday night paving the way for unrestricted use of a budget procedure to circumvent the legislative filibuster.
Elizabeth McDonagh’s decision – largely unknown to the public – could change the way Washington operates and give Democrats a significant opportunity to advance their agenda over the next two years.
Here are five reasons why the decision changes the game.
Biden could potentially do much more without GOP support
The most immediate change resulting from the parliamentarian’s decision is this President Biden suddenly there are more opportunities to move through major parts of its agenda, even with a 50-50 split in the Senate and a vote by Vice President Harris.
“It’s important because it gives us a little more flexibility – we don’t have to push everything into one package,” said the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s infrastructure plan sparks debate over definition on Sunday – Spotlight infrastructure Bernie Sanders follows Elon Musk’s desire to explore space MORE (I-Vt.) Said on MSNBC Monday night.
Budget reconciliation is a process that can bypass the legislative filibuster, but it must be linked to an annual budget resolution.
At the beginning of his term, Biden saw three options for using the budget’s workaround. The first, using a 2021 resolution that Congress did not bother to approve before the start of the fiscal year in October, was used for the $ 1.9 trillion relief bill for COVID-19. The second will be tied to fiscal 2022, and the third could be used next year, before fiscal 2023, but before Democrats face by-elections that could lead to a loss of control of any chamber. in Congress.
The new decision means Biden could theoretically return as many times as he wants to amend the budget resolution to adopt more policies, regardless of the financial year and what happens to the budget.
If, for example, it is easier to split the infrastructure package into four separate bills, or if it wants to pass additional relief for COVID-19, raise corporate taxes, or change the eligibility age for Medicare – all without Republican support – it is already there is a blessing to do it through reconciliation or at least to try.
This further undermines the power of the filter
Progressives strongly insisted on a Senate majority leader Charles SchumerChuck Sumer From steel to fiber, libraries are American infrastructure When it comes to the nuclear deal with Iran, what should a moderate Democrat do? Proponents of gun control applaud Biden’s funding plan, but say more needs to be done MORE (DN.Y.) to repeal the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold needed to advance most legislation.
The decision could take some of the wind off their sails because it would make it easier for the ruling party to move forward with legislation by a simple Senate majority.
This is currently the case for Democrats, who control both houses of Congress and the White House. In the future, this will give similar opportunities to Republicans who found themselves in the same position in 2017 and could do so again in the future.
But critics of the filibuster are likely to remain unhappy, given the strict restrictions on the types of legislation that can move forward through reconciliation.
Although budget circumvention is ideal for changing taxes, benefits, some health parameters and even large-scale investments, it hits a wall on issues that are not directly related to the deficit.
Restrictions on what policies are beyond reconciliation, commonly known as the Bird Rule, require that any policy not be “merely incidental” to its budgetary effects, the parliamentarian urged on a case-by-case basis.
At the end of February, she ruled that the increase in the minimum wage did not reduce it. Such solutions are possible if Democrats try to improve labor law such as the PRO Act, gun legislation, voting rights and immigration reform, all party priorities.
To pass any of them, they will either have to destroy the filibuster or find support from 10 Republican senators.
It gives even more power to Sen. Joe ManchinJoe Manchin The Morning Report on Biden – Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Manchin asks CDC to investigate HIV epidemic in West Virginia Senate MP to allow Democrats to circumvent GOP filibuster on two more laws
In an evenly divided Senate, Democrats cannot afford to make any defects in passing legislation through reconciliation.
No senator has been more willing to take advantage of this power than Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.), the most conservative Democrat in the House.
Manchin says the minimum wage should be raised to only $ 11 an hour, not the $ 15 demanded by most of his party, and opposed Biden’s plan to pay for infrastructure by raising corporate taxes. 21 to 28 percent.
He said he would oppose an increase of more than 25 percent, and did not comment on his position.
“If I don’t vote to go up, it won’t go anywhere,” he said Monday. “So we’ll have some leverage here.”
Manchin proved he meant business. He put a nail in the coffin of the White House nominee Neera TeethNeera Tanden2024 GOP White House hopes lead opposition to Biden’s cabinet White House postpones budget plan Biden says cabinet “looks like America” at first meeting when he said he would not vote to confirm it.
But others are catching the wind of the game and starting to raise their voices, which means it may be harder to keep the united ideologically diverse 50-member group.
His. Mark WarnerMark Robert Warner Lawmakers fight Capitol security after latest attack Senate Democrats unveil Hillicon Valley international tax plan: Parler says he warned FBI of threats before Capitol riots | Warner pressures Zuckerberg to deal with vaccine information on Facebook, Instagram Schools in the United States are increasingly resuming education MORE (D-Va.), Centrist, also said significant changes would be needed for Biden to adopt his infrastructure plan while a progressive senator. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee Wyden Senate lawmaker to allow Democrats to bypass CSO philibuster on two more bills Senate Democrats to present international tax plan Is China worried? Facilitate the source elsewhere MORE (D-Ore.), Who heads the Finance Committee, drafted his own version of the legislation on international corporate taxation, which took a slightly different approach than the one outlined by Biden.
It separates the legislative schedule from the budget
As the workaround was enshrined in the budget resolution, the legislative calendar was somewhat linked to the process of regular government appropriations.
The reconciliation bill stems from the same budget resolution, which sets out the overall levels of spending for the next fiscal years, distinguishing how much will be spent on defense and defense priorities.
This has complicated the deadlines for the adoption of conciliation accounts, given that the overall levels of expenditure for the year will have to be agreed before the budget is adopted.
That would be a heavy lift. Biden has not yet offered his own general expenses for next year, something any other incoming administration has done by mid-March. His budget office has signaled that the data will be published in the last week of March, only to slow its spread.
Once the overall budget numbers have been agreed, Congress must go through the ongoing process of passing 12 separate spending bills – with a 60-vote threshold in the Senate that will require CSO support – by Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends, or is facing potential exclusion.
But the parliamentarian’s decision that Congress could amend the resolution means the two are no longer bound, removing a calendar obstacle from the table or at least eliminating the need for other complex solutions.
It takes pressure from the debt ceiling
A potentially catastrophic stain that has plagued Washington, and Democrats in particular over the past few administrations, has been the debt cap or debt ceiling.
Even after Congress has adopted its spending and tax policy, setting deficits and loan requirements, the Treasury has a legal ban on borrowing above a certain limit.
If Congress does not take action to suspend or raise this limit when the debt is exhausted against it, the state will fail to meet its obligations, which could trigger a global financial crisis.
Republicans have repeatedly used the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip, especially in 2011 when he was a speaker John BonerJohn Andrew Boehner MSNBC host: Boehner, who is chasing the “madness” of the GOP, is “too little too late”. Sean Hannity responds to former spokesman Boehner: “What’s up with all the crying John?” Boehner told Bachmann: The right-wing media made “people who used to be typical stars in powerful media stars” MORE (R-Ohio) is pushing for a spending-cutting deal to increase the debt limit, leading to a 10-year spending-cutting plan that Congress canceled annually.
But as good news for Democrats, Congress can raise the debt limit through a budget reconciliation bill.
The current suspension of the debt limit ends in August. The Treasury could buy a few extra weeks of time using domestic “emergency measures,” but eventually Democrats would have to either close their infrastructure bill by then or deal with Republicans to raise the limit.
Democrats wondered if they could simply build separate reconciliation accounts in the three areas the process governs: spending, taxes and the debt limit.
The parliamentarian’s decision means that they no longer have to worry about this approach, nor about how the debt ceiling time plays their role in infrastructure plans.