Tonight, pay full attention to the language of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
He is confident of his demand that the Democrats promise that they will not lose the Filmstar in a 50-50 Senate power-sharing agreement. McConnell is now ready to strike a deal – because he knows Democrats – and Republicans, for this matter – lack the votes to eliminate Filmstar.
Therefore, McConnell is ready to deal.
We knew that last week it was unlikely that there were ever votes to get rid of Filmbuster. But only failing to eliminate the filibuster presents a problem to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The Democrat Party’s left would come to the scummer when the Senate failed to pass big-ticket tickets for significant progress from climate change to the state of DC. Schumer could only do that by extinguishing the film. But he does not lack the votes to do so.
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In other words, Schumer has responsibility, but none of the power.
This sentence is correct for McConnell: he has power in the 50–50 Senate, but none with responsibility. Without question, McConnell could emerge as the most powerful minority leader in Senate history.
Now, I’m going to give you a glossary term: “Budget Reconciliation.” You are going to hear a lot about the next few weeks. Schumer and liberals may not be able to advance their legislative agenda because of filmfights. But, they still have an annual option to pursue some legislation with fiscal implications: this is called “budget reconciliation”. This is the same Gambit Democrat who was used to pass the final version of Obamacare in 2010 when he lacked the votes to make a film. Republicans also used the same strategy to repeal and replace Obamacare – but could never come up with enough votes.
And, in recent times, it has been said that Democrats are increasingly looking for budget reconciliation to pass the next COVID package.
Here’s how it works:
Budget cohesion essentially robs the Senate of its two key features: unlimited debate and an unlimited amendment process. In other words, no filibuster. But, budget reconciliation can only be used on fiscal measures, such as tax policy. Obamacare is eligible because it deals with all types of taxation issues. Guns? Doubtful. Immigration? He is taking it further, though there may be tax and budget issues for new citizens. State status for DC? Maybe there is an outside chance because you are dealing with issues of taxation and representation for 700,000 Americans. But it can be a stretch.
It depends on how creative they can be.
It is more an art than a science.
And, you can pass something in the Senate with only 51 votes.
In order to have a budget harmonization “vehicle” to use the legislation, the House and Senate must first adopt a budget. In fact, they could do it as a shell. This process takes a few weeks, even if you are moving at a quick pace.
You only get one budget reconciliation package in a year – provided you can adopt a budget.
Now, as we said, there is a policy of needing to be fiscal in nature to qualify for budget reconciliation. In other words, you cannot insert a bill that relates to federal land policy in the reconciliation of the budget. And, it should be “budget neutral”. Measurement cannot add to losses.
The owners of the locks, MCCONNELL and Samuel, sometimes did not allow power sharing
Budget cohesion has more consequences for the Senate than the House. Debate time is 20 hours and restricts modifications. Such strictness is not rare for debate and amendment in the House. But the harmonization of the budget puts the Senate filibusters at bay. It takes 60 votes to disrupt a fibster – often twice – on various garden bills. Senators can stop an effort to call a piece of legislation to the floor and stop the debate again. But the elite nature of a budget harmonization package prevents senators from working at any level. It takes a simple majority to approve modifications and adopt the final product. In fact, senators can only make points of order and then “waive the Budget Act” according to some amendments or other provisions in the package (suggesting that the Senate is not functioning properly). But the abolition of the Budget Act requires a supremacy of 60 votes.
It is one thing to harmonize the standard-issue budget. But it is a highly parliamentary art form to use cohesion for other controversial policy goals. This is why lawgivers take advantage of special rules of reconciliation – and prevent a filibuster that would otherwise have tortured a stubborn piece of legislation.
But Caveat Emptor. There is a built-in landmine that comes with reconciliation. It is called “Baird Rule”, the name of the great, late Senate Majority Leader Robert Bird (D-WV). The practical effect of the Bird Rule is that “extinct” legislative priorities may not reconcile. Some examples include whether a provision cuts or increases taxes, revenue, adds to losses or is not related to budgetary matters. Senators may order to flag a non-compliant provision. As previously mentioned, it takes 60 votes to waive the Budget Act and to pass the Bird Rule.
That is why using cohesion can be a nest of parliamentary horns.
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So this may be the next strategy to approve the COVID bill. But first, the House and Senate should adopt the budget. And it will take some time.