The Washington Times Weekly

Senate parliament­arian OKs Schumer’s bid to shun GOP

- BY DAVE BOYER

The Senate parliament­arian ruled that Democrats can use special budgetary rules to avoid Republican filibuster­s on two more pieces of legislatio­n this year, potentiall­y clearing the way for President Biden’s mutlitrill­ion-dollar infrastruc­ture proposal to pass in two packages with simple-majority votes.

Parliament­arian Elizabeth MacDonough said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York and his Democratic troops can pass Mr. Biden‘s $2.25 trillion package using the fiscal 2021 budget resolution. That means Democrats could push through the package if they don’t lose the votes of any of their 50 senators.

A spokesman for Mr. Schumer said the ruling “allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstructio­n continues.”

He said no decision has been made on a path forward but called the ruling “an important step” for Democrats to use “if needed.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has vowed that Republican­s will fight Mr. Biden’s spending proposal “every step of the way.” That will be much more difficult with Republican­s unable to use the 60-vote filibuster threshold to block legislatio­n.

The parliament­arian’s ruling also means that a second budget resolution could be passed this year to approve the second, still-unannounce­d portion of Mr. Biden’s infrastruc­ture agenda.

The ruling further means that the fiscal 2021 budget could be revised a third time to set up a another “reconcilia­tion” spending package, also subject to a simple majority vote.

The White House and Senate Democrats used the budget reconcilia­tion process this year to enact Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote because Republican­s were unable to use the filibuster. The spending package passed the Senate by a 50-49 vote.

The second part of Mr. Biden’s infrastruc­ture agenda, to be introduced later this year, will focus on proposals such as affordable housing, expanded child care and free community college.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said last week that he won’t go along with all of Mr. Biden’s proposed increase of the corporate tax rate, from 21% to 28%, to pay for the infrastruc­ture plan. He said he might approve an increase to 25%.

The ruling has huge implicatio­ns for Mr. Biden getting more of his agenda approved this year.

Democrats have been agitating to eliminate the filibuster rule this spring or alter it significan­tly to make it more difficult for Republican­s to block legislatio­n.

Mr. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, in particular, have been the Democrats under pressure to change or kill the filibuster. Both lawmakers have resisted proposed changes to the longstandi­ng rule.

Mr. Biden said Senate Republican­s were being hypocritic­al in their opposition to his infrastruc­ture plans.

“When the Republican­s put forward an infrastruc­ture plan, they thought everything from broadband to other things were worth paying for infrastruc­ture,” Mr. Biden said. “They know we need it.”

White House aides said Mr. Biden and his advisers would be reaching out to Republican and Democratic lawmakers this week to build support for the plan.

“He looks forward to having conversati­ons with members of both parties about how to address the long-outdated effort to update our infrastruc­ture,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

 ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer will be able to muscle through two more major pieces of spending legislatio­n if he doesn’t have any Democratic defections.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer will be able to muscle through two more major pieces of spending legislatio­n if he doesn’t have any Democratic defections.

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