NAICU Washington Update

Senate Parliamentarian Greenlights Fast Track Budget Process

April 09, 2021

The Senate Parliamentarian recently ruled that the Committee on the Budget can revise the FY 2021 budget resolution to create new reconciliation instructions, providing an additional fast track vehicle for legislation. This would seem to pave the way for expedited consideration of legislation such as President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and other COVID recovery legislation expected this spring.  

By “unlocking” the FY 2021 budget resolution, the Senate Parliamentarian has made the unprecedented prospect for a third use of reconciliation during a single session of Congress a real possibility, as the FY 2022 budget resolution has yet to be written or used, which usually takes place this time of year. The Parliamentarian’s ruling comes after the FY 2021 reconciliation bill that already allowed the American Rescue Plan to pass the Senate with 51 votes and could portend a second, or “revised,” FY2021 reconciliation bill in addition to the future budget reconciliation bill that could be developed for the FY 2022 fiscal year.  

Future COVID recovery legislation could include social infrastructure programs, such as free community college.

To take advantage of this new ruling, both chambers of Congress would need to amend and pass a revised FY 2021 budget resolution with new reconciliation instructions to the committees of jurisdiction. Those committees would craft legislation to be packaged into a reconciliation bill for floor consideration. In the Senate, reconciliation provides for special floor rules, most importantly that a bill cannot be filibustered and that passage only requires a simple majority, instead of the 60-vote majority normally required in the Senate.