Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believes that Senate rules could allow Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process up to three times this year to pass legislation with a simple majority, Politico reports.
Democrats used the budget reconciliation process to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan but under Senate rules the process can only be used once per year.
Because Congress did not pass a budget resolution last year, Democrats used last year’s budget to pass the coronavirus relief bill, leaving them with an additional budget reconciliation they can use to pass another bill, like Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure package.
But Schumer aides believe they’ve found a rule that could allow them to pass a third reconciliation bill as well.
“Magical parliamentary trick”:
Schumer believes Section 304 of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act includes a “magical parliamentary trick” that could allow Democrats to use the process an unprecedented third time, according to Politico.
The rule effectively says that Congress and revise and amend budget resolution it already passed.
“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 rule says.
“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 told Politico.
Up to Senate parliamentarian:
The push puts the Senate parliamentarian in the hot seat once again after she rejected the Democrats’ plan to include a minimum wage increase in the coronavirus bill.
Though Section 304 has never been used before, Democrats are highly skeptical that any legislation can garner the necessary 60 votes to defeat a filibuster, and there appears to be little appetite among centrist Democrats at doing away with the filibuster.