NRO Corner Post by Daniel Foster: Remember Reconciliation

NRO Corner Post by Daniel Foster: Remember Reconciliation

Under the enforcement resolution, Democrats can no longer use a parliamentary tactic known as budget reconciliation next year — a process Democrats had hoped might allow them to pass key pieces of legislation, such as a jobs bill, with 51 votes in the Senate, as opposed to the usual 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

There are both substantive and political reasons why this is important. Substantively, it will, As Lowrey points out, make it all but impossible for Democrats to feed the “stimulus” machine with big new spending measures.

And politically? If in November the Republicans come very close to taking the House and cut into the Democrats’ majority in the Senate (I consider this the most likely outcome), they will nevertheless end up in de facto control of both bodies.

I’m hoping that this will link to Daniel Foster’s comments on what not passing a budget this year means for the dems next year.

If the link doesn’t work, click on “more” to read his comments.

Remember Reconciliation?   [Daniel Foster]

I know, I know. That word still has a little stink on it. But any Cornerite who read me during the Obamacare debacle will recall that I have a passion for legislative arcana, which is why this pick-up by Annie Lowrey delighted me:

Recognizing that Democrats would be reluctant to record “yes” votes for a budget that would augment the deficit, the House leadership opted to deem as passed a “budget enforcement resolution” instead, just before the July 4 recess. While the distinction between an enforcement resolution and a full budget is largely technical, there is one crucial difference: Under the enforcement resolution, Democrats can no longer use a parliamentary tactic known as budget reconciliation next year — a process Democrats had hoped might allow them to pass key pieces of legislation, such as a jobs bill, with 51 votes in the Senate, as opposed to the usual 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

Under the arcane rules of the Senate, budget reconciliation can only be used if it was written into the budget rules passed the previous year. With no full budget, there can be no reconciliation. As a consequence, Democrats lose a valuable tool for passing budget-related items on a majority-rules vote. Stimulus and jobs measures, if they combined short-term spending with longer-term deficit reduction, would have qualified for reconciliation.

There are both substantive and political reasons why this is important. Substantively, it will, As Lowrey points out, make it all but impossible for Democrats to feed the “stimulus” machine with big new spending measures.

And politically? If in November the Republicans come very close to taking the House and cut into the Democrats’ majority in the Senate (I consider this the most likely outcome), they will nevertheless end up in de facto control of both bodies.

Without reconciliation, Senate Democrats won’t have any procedural check on the filibuster (save a “nuclear option”), and grabbing the usual-suspect New England Republicans will no longer be enough to get to 60. On the other side of the Capitol, even if the Democrats hang-on to a bare majority, there are still going to be a non-trivial number of conservative House Democrats who side with the GOP on spending and social issues.

This situation would be disastrous for Democrats, whose narrow majorities would give them all of the responsibility and none of the power. It in turn would make the remainder of President Obama’s first term all the more difficult, since he would continue to preside over a “unified” Democratic government, but one that would prove almost impossible to mobilize for his progressive priorities.

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Posted on July 15, 2010, in Budget, Commentary. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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