Dems can use reconciliation to ram through more priorities, Senate parliamentarian says, but there’s a catch
R Street Institute Resident Senior Fellow for Governance James Wallner told Fox News that the fact a revised budget resolution won’t go straight to the Senate floor via “auto-discharge” and will instead need a committee vote is potentially the most surprising and significant part of the guidance.
This, he says, is because it would effectively give Republicans a filibuster option at the committee level where, if they are united in opposition to the legislation, they could simply boycott the committee vote and deny Democrats a quorum.
“Her initial ruling was that this could work,” Wallner told Fox News. “Now, the Republicans have a clever way to get around that by saying, well, you can’t get a budget our of the Budget Committee because we’re not going to vote for it, there won’t be a tie vote… and therefore, pursuant to the rules worked out at the beginning of the Congress, you can’t start that discharge procedure.”
Wallner emphasized that he is perplexed about “why the auto-discharge doesn’t apply to a revision as well” when “you’re taking the totality of budget procedures and you’re saying these all apply to a revision with the exception of this one.”
But that is nevertheless the case and could present a hurdle for Democrats. Wallner noted that Democrats could try to convince Budget Committee Republicans to at least show up for a vote, either by wooing them with appeals for comity or by threatening further procedural shenanigans.
Wallner also said there are a handful of procedural steps Democrats could take to get around a committee-level filibuster-by-boycott if they are united and determined enough.
But still, the reconciliation process, including a vote-a-rama which would let Republicans force Democrats on the record on a variety of issues through a marathon of votes that could last all day, all night and into the next morning, would force Democrats to spend a lot of political capital.
Further complicating matters is another potentially confusing element of the parliamentarian guidance that was first reported by Punchbowl and confirmed by Fox News – that revisiting an already-passed reconciliation would require, according to the parliamentarian, an external circumstance like economic trouble as justification. It’s very unclear how this would actually be determined or enforced. And Wallner noted there is no language in the law allowing for reconciliation on why a revision may be passed. The statute simply says budget resolutions may be revised “[a]t any time” before the end of the fiscal year.