Dems can bypass filibuster and use 'reconciliation' to pass Biden’s so-called 'infrastructure' package in 2 bills with simple majority
In a major victory for Chuck Schumer, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that the Dems' massive multi-trillion-dollar legislation designed to remake America can be broken into two bills and passed with a simple majority vote, disguised as a revision of the 2021 Budget Resolution. The protections offered by the filibuster are thus null and void thanks to this esoteric interpretation, and Dems can ram through their blueprint for the "fundamental change" that Barack Obama promised.
Alexander Bolton of The Hill explains the arcana:
Top Schumer aides had argued to parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough last month that Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 allows them to revise the budget resolution for fiscal 2021 to create additional reconciliation instructions, setting up pathways to pass two more bills this year with only a simple majority in the 50-50 Senate.
"The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. 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," a spokesperson for Schumer said in a statement Monday. "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."
MacDonough had previously ruled against Schumer by disallowing the inclusion of a $15 hourly minimum wage in the $1.9-trillion "American Rescue Plan" legislation passed on March 6, so she is no pushover. It may be that she is balancing her rulings, giving one to Schumer after ruling against him before, or it may be that she sincerely interpreted the rules and legislative history of the Senate in a nonpartisan fashion. So complex and laden with precedent are Senate rules and procedures that they resemble Talmudic disputation in their intricacy.
I suspect that the maneuver of splitting legislation into two bills is aimed at securing the support of Senator Joe Manchin, who not only opposes ending the filibuster, but also questioned the previous incarnation of the bill's hike in corporate income taxes. He may sign onto one of the two bills with the parts he objects to consigned to the other.
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