Democrats’ Infrastructure Blitz Hits Snag with Senate Rules

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Schumer and Democratic leaders spoke out on the newly revised version of the Republican healthcare plan designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care …
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The Senate parliamentarian’s ruling on budgetary reconciliation created more complications for Democrats hoping to pass a massive infrastructure bill this Summer.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hopes to use reconciliation twice using the same budget resolution to pass an infrastructure bill; Democrats used reconciliation to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill early in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled Friday that Congress can use reconciliation twice during the same budget resolution; however, the Senate cannot simply fast-track the legislation.

Budgetary reconciliation allows the Senate to pass legislation with only a simple majority instead of invoking cloture to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. To use reconciliation, Congress must first pass a budget resolution that contains reconciliation instructions. Historically, Congress can only use reconciliation once per budget resolution, but MacDonough told Schumer they could use reconciliation twice per resolution, albeit with complications.

MacDonough’s decision would allow Democrats to use Section 304 of the 1974 Budget Act to create multiple reconciliation bills within one fiscal year. However, Democrats would have to essentially restart the budgetary process to pass new budgets through the House and Senate Budget committees and have floor votes.

This process would create a Senate “vote-a-rama” for the budget resolution that could expose vulnerable Senate Democrats such as Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to tough Republican challenges.

This would not be impossible, but would result in a very rushed process budget process before the end of the fiscal year in September.

Given the increasing complexity of passing an infrastructure bill before the end of the fiscal year, some senior Democrats have considered delaying the legislation.

One Senate Democrat aide told Punchbowl News, “We’re planning to move forward with infrastructure in July, and [we’re] weighing all the options.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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