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Webinar: Budget Strategy to Pass a COVID Bill in the Senate: Reconciliation 101

January 22, 2021 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Register to view a recording of this webinar here. Find slides here.

There is a way to enact legislation in the Senate with only a simple majority (51 votes, not 60): it requires Congress to pass a joint budget resolution with “reconciliation instructions.” This webinar will explain how it works: what is allowed through reconciliation; what isn’t; how often this tactic can be utilized; likely timetables. We’ll discuss this in the context of the COVID Rescue Plan being advanced by the incoming Biden Administration.

Our expert presenters:

Joel Friedman, Vice President, Federal Fiscal Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Tamara Fucile, Senior Advisor for Government Affairs, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Moderator: Debbie Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

This webinar is best suited to advocates who are working on federal policies/funding related to all aspects of the pandemic.

Want to dive in further? Here are some excellent resources on reconciliation:

  • Questions about Senate parliamentarian; who selects; role: The current Senate Parliamentarian is Elizabeth MacDonough, who has been serving since 2012 (she was appointed by then Democratic Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid).  The Parliamentarian rules on whether provisions belong in a reconciliation bill.  The presiding officer in the Senate (either the Vice President or the President Pro Tempore (now Senator Leahy) can decide to rule differently than the advice of the Parliamentarian, although this is very rare – the last time it happened was in 1975.  According to CQ, this is how it would work related to whether a provision could be included in a reconciliation bill (that is, whether it meets the test of the Byrd rule):

“Then, a senator who believes a provision runs afoul of the Byrd rule could raise a point of order, and the presiding officer at that point could decide the point of order is “not well taken,” regardless of the parliamentarian’s advice.

The senator could then appeal the ruling of the chair. But under a special provision of the 1974 law that established the modern budget process, it would require 60 votes to sustain the appeal.”

That is, Vice President Harris could rule that a provision (for example, raising the minimum wage) was allowable, and it would take 60 votes to overrule that decision.  By the infrequency of this move, it is clear it would not be done lightly.

We need lots of people to contact Congress in order for the American Rescue Plan to pass.  Please help by forwarding this request to your lists for individuals to click and send emails to their senators and representative:

Please tell Congress to enact President Biden’s new COVID rescue plan.

The $1.9 trillion package, according to the New York Times, “includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. An additional $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include a dramatic increase in tax credits to help lift children, families, and workers out of poverty, $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers, food and housing aid, and large subsidies for child care costs.”

The essential legislation also provides critical aid to renters, people threatened with or experiencing homelessness, households unable to pay heat or water bills, and offers an extension of the eviction and foreclosure moratoria. Click on the link below to learn more about the plan and then write to your representative and senators.

Click here to learn more about the “American Rescue Plan” and then write to your members of Congress today.

If you have any questions please contact Nicolai Haddal: nhaddal@chn.org