|Procedural Profile: A Guide To Budget Reconciliation|
|keywords: Budget Reconciliation|
Congressional procedures can be confusing, but a basic understanding of them makes it significantly easier to follow the workings of the Federal government. One key procedure is budget reconciliation, a powerful but rarely-used legislative measure:
Review of Reconciliation
Created in 1974 under the Congressional Budget Act and first used in 1980, reconciliation is a tool to move budget legislation through Congress. Bills submitted under reconciliation cannot be filibustered, allowing the Senate to pass legislation without a supermajority. Reconciliation also limits the number of amendments that a bill can have, speeding up the legislative process.
Because reconciliation bypasses the ordinary Congressional process, Congress can only use it for certain types of legislation. A provision is not eligible for reconciliation if it:
Congress can only use budget reconciliation for bills that affect revenues, spending, or the debt ceiling, and it can only use it for each of these measures once per year. If a reconciliation bill covers two of these issues at the same time, Congress cannot use it again for either of them.
Because of the restrictions on its use, Congress has only used budget reconciliation 20 times in the more than 40 years since it was created. Key bills passed through reconciliation include:
At present, Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, but do not have enough votes in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Congress is thus likely to continue using budget reconciliation in the coming years.
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