The opinion increases the number of ways Democrats can advance their agenda, like President Joe Biden’s sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
A key Senate official ruled Monday that Democrats can use a budget process to push pivotal bills, like infrastructure, through the gridlocked chamber, according Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., office.
Reaching 60 votes in the Senate looked grim looked from the starting line: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., said last week he would fight the plan, suggesting from the onset there would be no Republican support.
Usually, the Senate needs 60 votes to surpass a filibuster, meaning 10 Republicans would need to join every Democrat, and the independents who caucus with Democrats, to pass legislation if it is related to taxing and spending.
Senators usually use just one opportunity to pass a budget resolution for fiscal year. But MacDonough’s ruling means Democrats can amend the budget resolution used recently for the COVID stimulus bill by attaching another set of reconciliation instructions to it.
It is unclear what Schumer will do about the infrastructure bill and the next half of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, which is coming later this month.
Reconciliation can also turn into a grueling process in which any senator can force a vote on an amendment.
These “vote-a-ramas” can go on for hours, requiring senators to be on the Senate floor. During the passage of the American Rescue Plan, one lasted nearly 24 hours.