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New Senate Rule Could Be a Game-Changer

Reconciliation process can be used multiple times
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2021 9:35 PM CDT
Updated Apr 7, 2021 12:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – A ruling on the budget reconciliation rules from the Senate parliamentarian may not sound like a particularly exciting development—but it could have massive implications for the future of President Biden's agenda. Elizabeth MacDonough's Monday night ruling could be a game-changer because it gives Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer another way to bypass Republican opposition in the divided chamber without using the "nuclear option" of abolishing the filibuster, the AP reports. MacDonough ruled that the reconciliation procedure, which the Democrats used to pass Biden's COVID relief plan without any GOP votes, can be used multiple times if the annual budget resolution is revised.

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Under the process, legislation can be passed with a simple majority as long as it meets budgetary guidelines, though it also involves "vote-a-ramas" that can last all night. Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman described the change as "an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats." The ruling means that Biden will, in theory, be able to amend the budget resolution multiple times to pass parts of his agenda including his infrastructure proposals, an immigration overhaul, and raising corporate taxes, the Hill reports. One drawback for Democrats may be that with the chamber split 50-50, centrist Sen. Joe Manchin will effectively have a veto over any legislation Democrats try to pass through reconciliation, as well other Democratic senators if the legislation has no bipartisan support. (Read more Senate stories.)

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