Chuck Schumer plans to sidestep filibuster by expanding the Senate reconciliation process


Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to once again sidestep the filibuster in order to ram through President Biden’s agenda without the support of a single Republican. 

Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, is proposing the expand the budget reconciliation process, which allows Congress to pass spending, revenue and debt measures with a simple majority of 51 votes. 

Generally, lawmakers are only allowed to pass one bill through reconciliation per fiscal year, according to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. 

Earlier this year, Democrats already used the reconciliation process to pass the American Rescue Plan — Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief effort. Since that package was technically for last year, as an impasse between Democrats and former President Donald Trump prevented the passage of a budget in 2020, lawmakers can use reconciliation at least once more this year. 

Mr. Schumer and his staff, however, argue that a vague clause within the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act could alter normal precedent. The clause in question states that “at any time after [a reconciliation bill] has been agreed to … and before the end of such fiscal year, the two Houses may adopt a concurrent resolution” to revise the legislation.

The majority leader suggests that the tactic would open up, at the very least, a third round of reconciliation this year. Such an event would give Democrats further opportunities to circumvent the filibuster.

Under current Senate rules, any legislation that falls short of 60 votes can be filibustered by a minority of members. Eliminating the filibuster, one of the defining characteristics of the Senate, has become a point of internal division among Democrats. Without the filibuster, the Senate would diminish its deliberative nature and transform the upper chamber into a majority-dominated body similar to the House of Representatives.  

It is unclear if Mr. Schumer‘s gambit will succeed. The Senate parliamentarian will have to rule on whether the majority leader’s interpretation of the reconciliation process is accurate under both the chamber’s rules and the 1974 budget law. 

Mr. Schumer‘s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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