However, MacDonough’s rulings on past versions of reconciliation bills, particularly on immigration provisions, have frustrated Democrats. James Wallner, R Street Institute senior fellow for governance, said that especially with Democrats’ thin margins, nothing is a done deal.
“We shouldn’t count our votes until they are cast,” he said.
Wallner also noted that the Senate does not actually need to listen to the parliamentarian and could simply overrule her. As a general rule, however, the Senate has followed that precedent for reconciliation bills, and top lawmakers have given no indication they plan to ignore MacDonough this time.
Wallner said a wrap-around amendment vote may not be easy for many Democrats, especially if they voted for an amendment during the vote-a-rama.
“That’s not necessarily an easy thing for them to do. It depends on the outside pressure. It depends on their constituents concerns. It depends on the media’s attention to what’s happening,” Wallner said. “There’s a reason why they couldn’t stop that amendment from passing.”
One thing going in Democrats’ favor on the vote-a-rama, Wallner said, is that Republicans are just as concerned with winning elections this fall as they are. That means Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could hold his fire on some provisions that could divide Democrats, because they could also reveal discord within the GOP.
“If you want to really use an amendment strategy to take a bill on the floor, it’s really hard to do that in a way that keeps your party unified,” Wallner said. “Because by definition if your party’s unified, chances the other party is going to be unified in opposition.”