Schumer gets his game changer

A decision by the Senate MP to allow Democrats to advance multiple reconciliation packages this year is a game changer that gives Senate Majority Leader Charles schumerChuck Schumer From Steel to Fiber, Libraries Are America’s Infrastructure When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what can a moderate Democrat do? Gun control advocates applaud Biden’s funding plan, but say more needs to be done MORE (DN.Y.) multiple ways forward President BidenJoe Biden Joe Biden’s surprising presidency The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden and McConnell agree on vaccines, infrastructure clash Republican battle with MLB intensifies MOREthe agenda.

At the very least, Schumer will be able to use budget reconciliation rules to avoid Republican filibusters two more times this year, just as he did to pass Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan last month by a 50-vote vote. 49.

Schumer now has the flexibility to promote Biden’s infrastructure spending and tax reform goals in two separate packages and also to increase the federal debt cap by the end of the year.

It eases the pressure to ditch the filibuster, something Schumer doesn’t have 50 votes to do, and it means progressive rank and file are likely to get more than they want from the Senate, as long as Schumer can keep his Senators Democratic. United.

“This is breaking a whole new path,” said Bill Hoagland, a veteran Senate observer who is now the senior vice president of the Center for Bipartisan Policy.

Republicans repeatedly used filibuster to block former President Obama’s agenda during his first six years in office when McConnell was minority leader. They were able to do it despite the fact that Democrats held 59 Senate seats for much of Obama’s first two years in office.

With only a slim majority in the Senate and Vice President Harris breaking ties, it seemed like it would be difficult for Biden to push through big legislation without compromising with Republicans.

However, on the first major issue, the coronavirus aid package, Biden did not have to win Republican votes after he was offered a proposal for less than a third of what he wanted to spend.

Monday’s new ruling means Schumer and Biden can use the same budget rules to move at least two more big packages this year, something that could help them fulfill their vows to bring change to Washington.

Schumer’s spokesman praised the MP’s decision Monday as “an important step forward,” while a Democratic aide said it sends the signal that Schumer and the Democrats can bypass the Republican Party.

“Reconciliation is a great way to avoid having to repeal obstructionism,” said the aide.

The Senate Democratic caucus has yet to decide how it will proceed with the new leeway, Democratic aides say, but the expectation is that Schumer and Speaker Nancy pelosiNancy Pelosi – Legislators struggle with Capitol security after the latest Senate Parliamentary attack to allow Democrats to circumvent Republican filibuster on two more bills. (D-Calif.) Will review the 2021 budget resolution to create a new reconciliation vehicle to pass Biden’s $ 2.25 billion Build Back Better infrastructure package.

The 2021 budget review will require both houses to pass another concurrent resolution, which requires 15 hours of debate and one vote per branch in the Senate.

That path would allow them to advance the infrastructure package while they wait for the White House to deliver their 2022 budget request to Congress. The administration’s “reduced budget,” a preliminary proposal, is expected to reach Hill this week.

The 2021 budget review will free up Democratic leaders to pass another budget resolution for fiscal year 2022 to set the stage for a third reconciliation bill that passes the second half of Biden’s infrastructure agenda.

That second tranche will focus on social needs such as expanded child care, free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, a permanent child tax credit and other top priorities of its liberal wing.

Democratic advisers say proposals to strengthen the Affordable Care Act of 2010, Obama’s signature achievement, and to lower the cost of prescription drugs, are also candidates for future reconciliation packages.

The MP’s ruling on Monday is a victory for the Democratic leader because it will allow him to keep the first infrastructure package more focused on traditional infrastructure priorities such as roads, bridges, ports and transit systems that are most likely to secure Sens support. moderate. Joe manchinJoe Manchin The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden, McConnell Agree Vaccines, Infrastructure Clash Manchin Calls On CDC To Investigate West Virginia HIV Outbreak Senate Parliamentarian To Allow Democrats To Bypass Republican Obstructionism On Two More Bills MORE (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten sinemaKyrsten SinemaSinema Defends Obstructionism: The ‘Solution Is For Senators To Change Their Behavior’ Obstructionism Can Be Conquered – I Know, Helped To Do It Biden Risks First Big Fight With Progressives MORE (D-Ariz), who oppose getting rid of obstructionism.

Democratic leaders are also hoping that the first tranche of infrastructure spending could even garner some Republican votes, giving Biden a major bipartisan achievement and a chance to say he has restored some civility to Washington.

However, that result seems dubious, as Republicans are hurt by signals from Democrats that they will act without them. Biden has argued that a bill can be bipartisan if polls show Republican voters back it, even if not a single Republican lawmaker votes for it. Republican lawmakers see things differently.

Still, some Democratic policy experts hope the MP’s decision could provide an incentive for at least some Republicans to help work out the details of Biden’s first infrastructure package.

“If Democrats can really move at least one more reconciliation bill, Republicans will eventually have to make a decision whether they are just going to complain or really try to get to the table,” said Jim Kessler, Schumer’s former aide. who is now executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a Democratic think tank.

A second Democratic aide said the MP’s ruling is effectively a warning to the Senate Minority Leader. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, infrastructure clash Republican battle with MLB escalates Biden wants lasting impact in court MORE (R-Ky.) And other Republicans who will be able to move the president’s agenda even if Republican senators refuse to support it.

“It’s a warning shot on the bow that Republicans can’t keep us in a place of absolute obstruction,” the aide said. “In fact, they are in the minority and they are going to have to suffer in the minority in the same way that we did.”

Another potential benefit of splitting Biden’s infrastructure agenda into two parts is that it allows Democratic leaders to delay action on the ambitious social agenda that progressives want to convey alongside traditional infrastructure, such as the free community college.

The risk of cramming all of the party’s infrastructure priorities into a single bill is that it could collapse under its own weight, especially if centrist Democrats like Manchin see people-centered infrastructure proposals as an extension of the definition of infrastructure. too far.

“It would be a lot more complicated, much less likely to get support,” Hoagland said of trying to pass the entire Biden infrastructure agenda in one bill.

Lawmakers also have to raise the limit on federal debt, which will expire on July 31 this year. At that time, the Treasury Department is expected to invoke “extraordinary measures” to extend the nation’s borrowing authority for a few more months, but Congress will have to address the issue before the end of the year.

The Democratic caucus now has to decide what it wants to do substantially and then determine with the MP whether those priorities comply with the Senate Byrd Rule, which sets the parameters for what can be passed with just 50 votes under budget reconciliation.

Democratic and Republican leadership aides have yet to litigate before the Senate MP what can be included in future reconciliation bills.

A Schumer spokesman said Monday that “no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward” and that “some parameters have yet to be resolved.”


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