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How the parliamentarian could reshape the Biden agenda

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19%. 2 min read.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: The Capitol dome is seen early Wednesday morning before Amb. William Taylor And Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State George Kent testify at the first public impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill November 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. In the first public impeachment hearings in more than two decades, House Democrats are trying to build a case that President Donald Trump committed extortion, bribery or coercion by trying to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rival in exchange for military aide and a White House meeting that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sought with Trump. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

A crucial decision this week by the Senate's parliamentarian could have sweeping ramifications for Joe Biden and future presidents to ram their agendas through the chamber along straight party-lines, putting Democrats on the cusp of pushing the rules further than they've gone before.

After top Democratic aides privately strategized on a novel plan for weeks, the parliamentarian suggested on Monday that the Senate could potentially take an unprecedented step to use a process known as budget reconciliation twice every fiscal year, possibly giving Democrats a chance to move a total of six pieces of legislation with just 51 votes before the end of this Congress, according to officials in both parties and experts of Senate rules.

Already, Democrats have approved the $1. 9 trillion Covid-19 relief law through the budget reconciliation process, pushing through the bill in the 50-50 Senate and narrowly divided House without a single Republican vote.

The provisions in the package must adhere to the Senate's strict budget rules that forbid extraneous measures, which are enforced by MacDonough, who rejected Democratic efforts to include a $15 an hour federal minimum wage hike in the Covid relief plan.

At the beginning of the year, Biden held a similar meeting with Senate Republicans in the Oval Office about Covid relief only to eventually turn to Democrats to pass the legislation on their own through the reconciliation process.

For each budget resolution and for each reconciliation bill, Senate rules allow for an open amendment process known in the Capitol as a vote-a-rama, meaning any senator can offer as many amendments as he or she wants through a grueling and marathon series of votes.

Moreover, aides familiar with the discussions say that before any more rulings can be made by the parliamentarian, Democrats in the Senate will need to be wedded to this process and the potential implications it could bring.

Already, Manchin and a handful of moderate Democrats, have suggested they want to try and push an infrastructure bill with Republican votes before turning to the partisan budget process.

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