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Home / Tips and Tricks / Democrats have a trump card up their sleeve to approve the next stimulus check. This is how it works

Democrats have a trump card up their sleeve to approve the next stimulus check. This is how it works



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What is budget reconciliation? We will explain how Senate Democrats can use it to pass Biden’s Emergency Relief Act despite opposition.

Angela Lang / CNET

Democrats are preparing a powerful but rarely used legislative weapon that could aid in President Joe Biden’s approval $ 1.9 trillion incentive and rescue plan and send a third stimulus check for maximum $ 1,400 per person, to expand unemployment insurance and boost vaccine distributioneven in light of Republicans’ objections in an evenly divided Senate where Democrats have only a binding majority.

Biden’s stance is that Congress should act now, rather than spend months negotiating a two-tier deal if none comes. “The link between controlling the virus, spreading the vaccine, and ultimately launching a robust recovery is extremely tight, and we can’t let the ball fall on that,” said White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein. Wednesday morning on Bloomberg Television. That’s where President Joe Biden comes from. That is why the urgency of acting is so acute now. ‘

However, there is one tool Democrats could use to bypass objections in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and speed up approval: budget reconciliation. Using it, it would be possible to pass the incentive law in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with a simple majority. Although Parliament has a larger democratic majority, budget reconciliation could have a direct effect on the outcome of a vote in the Senate. Here’s how it works and what’s happening now.

What is budget reconciliation?

Budgetary reconciliation is a parliamentary tool that Congress can use to speed up the adoption of legislation. The coordination can start with the budget committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, before the budget is put to the vote. The House and Senate are already taking steps to start the reconciliation process and push Biden’s package through without Republican backing, with the Senate approving the blueprint for the reconciliation on Tuesday and the House expected to do the same on Wednesday.

Specifically in the Senate, budget reconciliation requires a simple majority rather than the normal 60 votes required to pass expenditure or revenue legislation. The bill also cannot be linked to a filibuster, where a senator can use different tactics to block or delay an account.

Because it can be used to pass tax legislation that may not have bipartisan support, the budget reconciliation process comes with strict guidelines not only on how it can be used, but how often Congress can use it.

First, it can only be used for legislation that changes federal spending, income and debt limits, such as Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus package. Something called the Byrd Rule – named after former West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd – prevents items that don’t fit into any of these three budget categories from being included.

Second, the Senate can consider only one reconciliation per year for each of the budget categories: expenses, income, and debt. Because Congress did not pass a budget resolution for the 2021 budget in 2020, Congress may have two options this year to use the tool, once in the fall, when it adopts a budget to fund the government.


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How budget reconciliation can get a stimulus package approved

With an evenly divided Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris – who serves as President and Presiding Officer of the Senate – can cast an equal vote if the Senate is deadlocked on a bill.

Using the budget reconciliation process, Congressional Democrats would be able to push through Harris’s cut ties of Biden’s American Rescue Plan that meet the requirements without Republican aid.

Not everything Biden wants to achieve would meet the requirements for reconciliation. Raising the minimum wage to $ 15 may be outside the requirements. Likewise, using the process to fund reopening of schools may go beyond the limits of the tool.

While Biden has said he wants to work with congressional republicans to reach bipartisan agreements on his legislative agenda – and a group of 10 moderate Senate Republicans have proposed an alternative $ 600 billion bailout they say it could win Republican support – the president could decide the fastest way to approve his plan is through budget reconciliation.

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Biden is working to get more economic aid as soon as possible.

Sarah Tew / CNET

How budget reconciliation has been used before

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Congress has successfully used the reconciliation process only 21 times since 1980.

The most recent use of the budget reconciliation process was under former President Donald Trump, when Congress used the tool to enact the government’s 2017 tax cuts. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Congress used the process to change the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

For more information on the next stimulus package, here where things stand at Biden’s proposal, what you need to know about stimulus controls, and what happens to it federal unemployment assistance.


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