August 12, 2021

Budget Reconciliation Update - August

2 min

In the early hours of August 11, the Senate passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution on a party-line vote, just a day after passing the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF). Passage of a budget resolution by the House and Senate is the predicate step for the Senate’s use of the budget reconciliation process to pass certain policies via a majority vote and avoid the obstacle of a Senate filibuster.

Specifically, the budget resolution is a framework that provides topline funding levels and instructions to the Senate committees of jurisdiction. The resolution directs these committees to report to the Budget Committee legislation that either funds existing programs or raises revenue in a manner consistent with the budget resolution instructions. Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has said he expects the Senate committees to report their reconciliation packages to the Budget Committee by September 15.

The House will now need to either adopt the Senate-passed budget resolution or amend the resolution and send it back to the Senate. Democrats’ interest in the resolution as a vehicle to advance a host of policy and spending priorities is high. Not wanting to delay, the House announced it will return early from its August recess to debate and vote on the resolution beginning August 23.

House passage of a budget resolution remains likely; however, it is unclear exactly what compromises or alliances Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) will negotiate to cobble together the votes needed for passage in that chamber. On the one hand, progressive members of the House insist that the budget be consequential in scope and scale as they seek to lock in as much of the Biden agenda as possible. On the other hand, moderate members remain uncomfortable with both the size and many of the policies set forth in the Senate-passed budget resolution and would prefer the House simply move to consideration of the BIF. With a four-vote majority and help from Republican members unlikely, House Democratic leadership must find a way forward that satisfies both of these camps. The dog days of August, once a predictably quiet month on Capitol Hill, are proving to be anything but in 2021. The next several weeks will determine the path for rest of the year as Congress and the White House look to build accomplishments and the 2022 midterm elections begin to emerge on the horizon.