WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats say they won an additional opportunity to circumvent a Republican filibuster of major legislation this year, thanks to a new ruling issued Monday.
The ruling, as described by Senate Democrats, means they will be able to enact at least one additional bill this year with only 50 votes, instead of the 60 that are required to overcome the filibuster. Under prior readings of Senate rules, the majority was only able to use the so-called reconciliation procedure once in each fiscal year.
The decision marks a significant win for Democrats, who have only 50 votes in the Senate and want to enact an ambitious legislative agenda put out by the Biden administration.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough whether Senate rules allow Democrats to use the procedure, called reconciliation, more than once in a fiscal year, citing Section 304 of a 1974 law.
There are severe restrictions on what kind of bills can be enacted through reconciliation.
Legislation passed through this procedure has to be directly related to the federal budget. While a lot of legislation can be tied to the budget because it would either increase or decrease the federal deficit, there are limitations.
Issues like climate change and immigration are harder to enact through reconciliation because they are not directly related to the budget.