Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced a joint resolution on Monday afternoon that will allow them to start the reconciliation process, which would allow them to pass President Joe Biden’s coronavirus stimulus package without needing support from the Republican Party.
“Introduction of a joint budget resolution is the first step to potentially enacting a Budget Reconciliation bill, one legislative tool available to Congress to quickly pass bipartisan COVID relief legislation,” a joint statement from the two Democrat leaders said. “The Resolution outlines the ‘reconciliation instructions’ for each House and Senate committee, or how much funding can be spent in their jurisdiction. If both the House and Senate pass identical Budget Resolutions (which do not require a Presidential signature), both chambers can begin work on the Reconciliation bill that is signed by the President. According to an analysis of research from the Congressional Research Service, reconciliation bills have been passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis 17 times in recent years, including to pass the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997.”
“Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from COVID-19 ,” the statement continued. “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now. With this budget resolution, the Democratic Congress is paving the way for the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package that will crush the virus and deliver real relief to families and communities in need. We are hopeful that Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering.”
Breaking: Schumer & Pelosi have filed a joint budget resolution, setting up the reconciliation process to streamline passage of Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID package with or without GOP support pic.twitter.com/yEK83L7sya
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) February 1, 2021
The news comes after Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) recently tried to alleviate fears across the country that Democrats were going to eliminate the legislative filibuster in order to ram through a far-left agenda by stating that they would not eliminate the filibuster under any circumstance.
However, as Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel recently noted, the promise from the two senators is only “half a loaf.”
Strassel wrote in part:
The Senate in fact has two guards against allowing a bare majority to jam through sweeping policy changes. One is the legislative filibuster. The other is what’s known as the Byrd rule—named after the senator whose seat Mr. Manchin now holds.
The Senate has a process called budget reconciliation, which allows certain spending and tax measures to pass the chamber with a simple majority. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who died in 2010, was a defender of the chamber’s “deliberative process” and in 1985 moved to stop senators who were abusing reconciliation by jamming nonbudget issues into those bills simply to avoid the 60-vote requirement. The Senate unanimously adopted his rule, which essentially puts the Senate parliamentarian in charge of deciding whether items in reconciliation bills are truly budget-related. The Byrd rule protects against the majority using reconciliation as an end run around the legislative filibuster.
And don’t Democrats know it. Even as the two senators vow never to bust the filibuster, their Democratic colleagues are plotting instead to bust the Byrd rule. Progressive groups are ramping up pressure on Democrats to load the Biden agenda into reconciliation bills, then simply overrule the parliamentarian when she finds them in violation of the Byrd rule. … The idea isn’t new. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2017 led a campaign to gut the power of the Senate parliamentarian after she issued numerous rulings limiting the GOP’s ability to use reconciliation to reform ObamaCare. Democrats and the media went bananas, correctly noting that Republicans were effectively moving to “nuke” the legislative filibuster, allowing the GOP to pass virtually anything. Democrats praised Mr. McConnell when he refused to go along. Now they want to break the Senate themselves.
This article has been revised for clarity.