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A surprise decision by a top Senate official gives Democrats multiple chances to skirt Republican opposition, but it could sap momentum for weakening the filibuster.
WASHINGTON — Democrats might not have the votes to gut the filibuster, but they were just handed the procedural keys to a backdoor assault on the Senate’s famous obstruction tactic.
With a ruling on Monday that Democrats can reuse this year’s budget blueprint at least once to employ the fast-track reconciliation process, Democrats can now conceivably advance multiple spending and tax packages this year alone without a single Republican vote as long as they hold their 50 members together. It is a means of weakening the filibuster without having to take the politically charged vote to do so.
“It is always good to have a series of insurance policies,” Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, said about the possibility that Democrats could repeatedly duplicate last month’s party-line passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation should they not be able to work out deals with Republicans.
But whatever strategy they employ, it is clear that the decision by the Senate parliamentarian to agree with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, that a musty 47-year-old budget provision could be used more than once in a fiscal year widens President Biden’s path to enacting his emerging infrastructure plan by shielding it from a filibuster if need be.
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