The great divide between progressives and centrists will now be on full display over Reconciliation

To understand what the reconciliation option is, it is simply a call for the budget by Reconciliation, while avoiding the filibuster. It informs certain Congressional committees to change budgets for spending, revenues, or deficits by specific amounts. Each committee writes a bill to achieve its target, and if more than one committee is told to act, the Budget Committee puts the bills together into one big bill.

The Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling yesterday was simply on the ability to use more than one Reconciliation bill within a budget year. That was always going to be the likely option. In other words, Democrats can pass another major piece of legislation — such as President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion-plus infrastructure plan — by revisiting the budget process they used to approve his coronavirus relief package without Republican support, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. In fact, the decision, as read by Schumer, represents a major expansion of the reconciliation process that allows passage of some bills with a simple Senate majority. That stretch of reconciliation empowers any party in full control of Washington to theoretically use the tool as often as they want, if Schumer decides to follow through on using the budget process to pass Biden’s infrastructure plan, which he has not yet done.

However, the problem now becomes addressing enough issues to mend the divide between the progressive and the centrist blocks within the Democratic Senate caucus (many of the latter being up for re-election in 2022), while still adhering to the Senate Parliamentarian’s strict guidelines on what qualifies for Reconciliation. 

As we have stated since the Georgia Senate runoff results, Manchin, Sinema, and Kelly are unable to rubber stamp progressive bills coming out of the Biden camp. It is simply not possible to do so without endangering their seats when the 2022 midterms come around. On the other hand, the progressive wing will not allow their issues to fall into the 3rd reconciliation bill knowing that the average time for such bills runs around 155 days. There is no stimulus checks this time to speed the will of congressional members up and put their issues on the back burner. 

The upshot of all this is that the likelihood of a GOP House majority is becoming more real every day, which will make the Biden admin more desperate to pass all their wishlist issues this year, as once Christmas comes around, look for the start of the re-election waves for all of House members and nearly 2 dozen senators. At this point,  the odds for any new legislation are virtually null and void.