September 21, 2021

BYRON YORK: Democrats panic.

There is a method in Senate rules for getting around a filibuster and passing a bill with a simple majority, or even a tie, plus the vice president. It is called reconciliation. The problem for Democrats is that it can only be used a limited number of times, usually once a year, and it must only be done with a budget bill — the idea being that a minority should not be able to use the filibuster to keep Congress from passing a budget for the U.S. government. To be included in a reconciliation measure, a proposal must be “germane” to the budget. It can’t be just any policy whim. It must have a real budgetary effect.

But Democrats had an idea. We don’t have enough votes to break the filibuster or to pass big parts of our agenda, they reasoned, so let’s just throw everything into one gigantic budget reconciliation bill. We can even throw immigration reform in there! Sure, that’s not what reconciliation is for. But let’s just do it. We can get around the filibuster and pass a New Deal-sized bill without even controlling a majority of seats in the Senate.

Put the idea in the category of too clever by half. Some Democratic centrists in both the House and Senate are uncomfortable with the $3.5 trillion figure, especially with inflation plaguing the U.S. economy. The Senate parliamentarian blocked the effort to put immigration reform in the reconciliation bill. Several Democratic senators have their doubts about getting rid of the filibuster. They don’t agree on climate measures. There is a fight coming over the debt ceiling. Amid all those Democratic disagreements, all of a sudden, the super-clever, let’s-put-it-all-in-one-big-bill-Republicans-can’t-stop plan looks very vulnerable.

Which is why we’re also seeing headlines such as this: Democrats tie government funding to debt bill, GOP digs in.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he’s not about to help pay off past debts when Biden is about to pile on more with a “reckless” tax and spending package.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for over two months,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

Old and busted: Republicans pounce and seize. The new hotness? Republicans dig in!

 

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