The confusion which still surrounds the opinion of the parliamentarian has major consequences on the democratic agenda. The move could give Democrats at least three more opportunities to push bills past the Republican opposition ahead of the midterm elections without trying to remove the obstruction in the Senate – a move that has failed. still universal support within their party. But if the decision has certain constraints, the grueling budget process could be a lot less appetizing for Democratic leaders.
The entire ordeal could ultimately go nowhere, with moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) already signaling a reluctance to exclude Republicans from future spending legislation.
“We will not solve our nation’s problems in one Congress if we only seek partisan solutions,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed Wednesday night. “Instead of focusing on eliminating filibuster or shortening the legislative process through budget reconciliation, it’s time we did our job.
Other Democrats are not keen on turbo-charging a legislative route that requires hours of speaking.
“I think the appetite for another reconciliation bill is good. I think the appetite for a third reconciliation bill is starting to wane,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) Said in a statement. interview, referring to the obscure process that Schumer might have gotten another chance at. “Regardless of what the parliamentarian has said, I think we recognize that we have limited time and limited opportunities to achieve these goals.”
Republican Senate aides with first-hand knowledge of the parliamentarian’s decision said It’s unclear what legislative priorities Democrats could adopt with a possible additional boost to reconciliation, or even whether the move would limit Democrats’ use of their second attempt. The parliamentarian’s opinion also does not specify whether such an action is even admissible during this exercise, or whether a party would be free to unlock unlimited possibilities to use reconciliation.
A Democratic House lawmaker observed that the party “can put as much into a two-part reconciliation bill as possible,” questioning Schumer’s practical advantage in wielding the new power he appears to have gained.
“I think Schumer is on a very solid footing for us to revise the budget resolution, but I’m not sure what that brings us,” said the Democrat, speaking frankly on condition of anonymity.
In fact, Democrats point out that they have made no decision on whether to accept the constraints of the budget process to help push through Biden’s infrastructure program or other legislative priorities. And they recognize that the parliamentarian’s decision – although important – raises a number of questions.
But if these questions result in another set of important issues vying for parliamentary approval, Democrats are confident their argument will win.
“The parliamentarian’s opinion was a significant development but certainly not a panacea,” said a senior Democratic aide. “Democrats will continue to discuss and explore the possibility of using this tool in the most effective way possible.”
Schumer had asked parliamentarian for permission to review the FY2021 budget resolution Democrats rolled out to pass Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic aid package – in hopes of triggering a second attempt at reconciliation. If the parliamentarian’s opinion seems to indicate that the maneuver is possible, it is not necessary. The Democrats already have at their disposal a tax resolution 2022, free and exempt from any sensitive issue if they are to move forward with the four-decade-old finance law which allows certain measures to escape the systematic obstruction of the Senate.
Even if Democrats get the full green light to recycle the same reconciliation process used to pass Biden’s Covid bill last month, it’s unclear what they would use it for, what priorities might be thrown out for violating the rules that guide the process and if it would. significantly delaying other elements of the legislative calendar, such as a budget and spending bills for the next fiscal year.
Zach Moller, deputy director of economics at centrist think tank Third Way, said that when he first saw Schumer’s spokesperson’s description of the parliamentary decision, he thought to himself: “‘ Oh, okay, that’s a big deal. ‘”
“And then I read it again and saw that there were things that needed to be sorted out,” Moller added. “And then I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t really know what that means anymore.’ … It is clear that this has sparked a debate.
Democrats on Wednesday downplayed the idea that the parliamentarian’s signal – whether it was a green or a yellow light – would affect future spending bills. House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said the group “is making headway with the FY2022 process, starting with the budget review hearings next week.”
Perhaps more importantly, Democrats may not have enough support within their own caucus to use reconciliation again, especially not in a way that could set a meaningful new precedent. The 50 Democratic senators are expected to embrace this approach, which moderates like Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Have advised against using a second time, not to mention a third.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday in Kentucky that Biden’s infrastructure package was a “hard sell” in a divided Senate, “with or without a reconciliation process.” At least one moderate Democrat, Manchin, has previously signaled that he does not support Biden’s plan to lower the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. And his colleagues are listening.
“We can already hear Senator Manchin throwing cold water on it,” Speier said. “I just think it’s really important to include the highest priority items in this next bill.”
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.