Senator Joe Manchin (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
On Monday, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the press that the Senate MP had passed a ruling that would give Democrats at least one additional attempt to pass a simple majority law under the rules for the budget voting process to adopt.
Usually the Senate could pass a reconciliation for each fiscal year this is not subject to the usual 60-vote threshold for legislation in the Senate. The US $ 1.9 trillion COVID Relief bill passed by Congress in March used the budget for fiscal year 2021 (ending September 30). We already knew that in normal practice this calendar year, Democrats would make another attempt to pass a law of reconciliation for fiscal 2022. But if Schumer’s spokesman forwards exactly What the Senate MP said, then the Senate Democrats can go back and revise the already passed Budget Adjustment Act for the 2021 financial year.
A big question – which no one seems to have a definitive answer to – is how many times the Senate can go back and revise it. Can they pass a reconciliation law that focuses on infrastructure? And then one about health care? And another one about the environment? And so on?
Again it is not clear. It is also not clear that Congressional Democrats would achieve much more if they took a step-by-step approach, rather than condensing everything they agree on into one grand law of reconciliation.
But even if the Senate MP effectively allowed as many budget reconciliation invoices as Schumer wanted, Joe Manchin couldn’t do it.
Schumer would almost certainly still need the support of every single Democrat in the 50:50 Senate to implement a strategy for multiple reconciliation bills, but Manchin is writing a new one Washington Post op-ed published on Wednesday evening that such a strategy would set a “dangerous precedent”.
“There is no circumstance under which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” writes Manchin. “If the filibuster is eliminated or budget voting becomes the norm, it will set a new and dangerous precedent that will pass sweeping partisan laws that change the direction of our nation every time political control changes. The consequences will be profound – our nation may never see stable government again. “
The West Virginia Democrat just voted for a sweeping reconciliation bill in March – and he’s not saying he’s against another – but he appears to be crushing Democratic hopes of passing several separate reconciliation bills this year.