Apr 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate parliamentarian says Democrats could use budget reconciliation again

Photo of Chuck Schumer raising a pointed finger while speaking

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued an opinion Monday that could allow Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process again in fiscal year 2021, a spokesman for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) said

Why it matters: The opinion increases the number of pathways for advancing President Biden’s agenda without having to end the filibuster.

  • Schumer's top policy aides argued that revising this year's budget could "trigger an additional set of reconciliation instructions," which would allow for further 50-50 votes that are decided by Vice President Harris.
  • The "conventional wisdom is that Democrats have just one more shot at reconciliation this year, and this route would give them at least one more," Axios' Mike Allen writes.

The big picture: The parliamentarian's decision means Senate Democrats could potentially pass legislation like the American Jobs Plan with a simple majority rather than 60 votes, which would require 10 Republican votes.

What they're saying: "The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. This confirms the Leader’s interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues," a spokesperson for Sen. Schumer said.

  • "While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.”
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