| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Democrats to use reconciliation to pass further bills, US Senate parliamentarian affirms

According to a spokesman for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, the Senate parliamentarian ruled on Monday that Democrats may use a procedural mechanism known as reconciliation to pass more legislation this year, clearing the way for passage of an infrastructure bill without Republican support.

Democrats haven’t decided whether to use reconciliation, which they used to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill last month without Republican votes, according to spokesman Justin Goodman.

But Monday’s ruling by Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough means they can do so with just a simple majority in the Senate, by treating the measure as a revision of budget legislation. Doing so would bypass a potential Republican filibuster, in which legislation would need 60 votes to pass.

The Senate is currently divided 50-50 between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, but Democrats have control of the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.

“The Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed,” Goodman said.

Biden last week proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which Republicans have said they would oppose.

Biden has said he wants to negotiate the measure with lawmakers from both parties. But he would be willing to push through the infrastructure bill without the support of Republican lawmakers in the absence of a bipartisan agreement, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Sunday.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said last week that Biden’s plan would raise taxes and increase debt, and he vowed to fight it “every step of the way.”

Senator Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate, said he was satisfied with the parliamentarian’s decision.

He said, “The American people want bold action to resolve our country’s many problems, and Democrats now have more options to tackle Republican resistance and get things done.”

  • Reuters