The Washington Times Weekly
Senate parliamentarian OKs Schumer’s bid to shun GOP
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.