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Democrats will be able to pass President Biden's $2.2 trillion spending bill with a simple majority vote due to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
That means Democrats will need just 50 votes, with Vice President Kamala breaking the tie, avoiding the need for 60 votes to break a filibuster and allowing passage without a single Republican vote.
The ruling effectively gives Democrats an opportunity they might not have otherwise had to use the special reconciliation procedure on the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement on Monday that the Senate Parliamentarian would allow a revised budget resolution to contain reconciliation instructions pursuant to a little-known workaround.
“While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed,” Schumer said.
Democrats also passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan last month via the budget reconciliation process, circumventing Republican opposition.
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Generally, the fast-track process is only allowed to be used on a spending bill once per fiscal year.
However, the Senate Parliamentarian was asked whether Democrats could use Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, as Schumer noted, to use it again.
The Parliamentarian’s interpretation of Section 304 allows Democrats to modify the budget resolution for the current fiscal year to potentially include instructions for another piece of legislation.
“At any time after the concurrent resolution on the budget for a fiscal year has been agreed to pursuant to section 301, and before the end of such fiscal year, the two Houses may adopt a concurrent resolution on the budget which revises or reaffirms the concurrent resolution on the budget for such fiscal year most recently agreed to,” the text of the provision reads.
The legislation still must fit the rules for reconciliation, meaning it needs to be related to taxes and spending. The Parliamentarian can strike proposals that are not in line with the provision’s guidelines – as was the case with the $15 minimum wage measure in the American Rescue Plan.
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Biden unveiled a $2.2 trillion spending proposal, which includes a sweeping revamp of the nation’s infrastructure and many other measures, last week.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN over the weekend that the White House is open to using budget reconciliation to pass the bill if necessary.
“Well, as [Biden] has said, he was sent to the presidency to do a job for America,” Granholm said. “And if the vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, across the country support spending on our country and not allowing us to lose the race globally, then he's going to do that.”
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Biden intends to bring forward another policy bill later this month, which will concentrate on people-focused policies.
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