A top Senate official ruled on Monday that Democrats could use the fast-track budget reconciliation process for a second time this fiscal year, potentially handing them broader power to push through President Biden’s agenda, including his infrastructure plan, over Republican opposition.
The process works by reopening the budget plan approved in February and “adding” directives to enact the infrastructure plan.
The guidance could substantially weaken the filibuster by allowing the majority party to use budget reconciliation — a powerful tool that allows measures related to taxes and spending to pass on a majority vote — multiple times in a single fiscal year. That would dilute the power of the minority to stall or block such legislation in the Senate.
Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian who ruled that the process could be used, handed the Democrats a powerful tool that allows them to leave the filibuster intact and not need to negotiate to achieve 60 votes in a very divided congress.
The process negates Mitch McConnell’s threat of a “scorched” earth level of obstruction if the filibuster is eliminated, and Dem. Congressman Manchin’s refusal to support Biden policies that don’t meet his “bipartisan” threshold.