In an effort to get around the planned obstruction of legislation Senate Democrats are trying to pass in the early days of the Biden administration, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is looking at an obscure 1974 rule that would allow for passing bills with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of needing 60 votes to shut down filibusters from Republicans in the upper chamber.
Politico is reporting that the rule Schumer is planning to use budget reconciliation for a major piece of legislation:
“If you know one thing about the arcane subject of budget reconciliation, it’s that it can be used to pass legislation through the Senate with just 51 votes rather than the 60 it takes to overcome a filibuster.
“If you know two things, it’s the simple majority rule and that reconciliation can be used only once every fiscal year.
Congress didn’t pass a budget resolution last year, so Democrats used reconciliation left over from fiscal year 2021 to pass President JOE BIDEN’S $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. That means they still have the fiscal 2022 reconciliation bill left as a vehicle for portions of Biden’s infrastructure, tax, climate and social welfare agenda.”
The American Rescue Plan is now law. The infrastructure bill is expected to be unveiled soon. But there may be a way to get a third bite at the reconciliation apple:
“Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER believes he has found it. It’s called Section 304, and you’re about to start hearing about it a lot.
“This section of the law that governs the congressional budgeting process essentially says that Congress may revisit and amend an already-passed budget resolution, like the one used to pass the Covid relief package. Or at least that’s what Schumer aides are arguing.
“Recently, top policy aides to Majority Leader Schumer made the argument to the Senate Parliamentarian that Section 304 allows for at least one additional set of reconciliation bills related to revenue, spending and the public debt to be considered for Fiscal Year 2021,” a Schumer aide previewing the strategy told us Sunday night.”
In case you’re wondering, Section 304 has never been used before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used if Schumer and Senate Democrats decide to, with the final verdict on the matter coming down to the Senate Parliamentarian, who would suddenly become the most powerful unelected official in the country.
What exactly does Section 304 say? Take a look:
“At any time after the concurrent resolution on the budget for a fiscal year has been agreed to pursuant to section 301, and before the end of such fiscal year, the two Houses may adopt a concurrent resolution on the budget which revises or reaffirms the concurrent resolution on the budget for such fiscal year most recently agreed to.”
The key word there is “revises.” Does a budget revision allow for using 304? Looks like we’re on the verge of getting an answer to that question.
Featured Image Via NBC News