This week’s rush by Republicans to pass tax reform reveals the limits of majority rule in the Senate.
Early in the year, Republicans decided to use the special budget process known as reconciliation to pass their tax bill in anticipation of Democratic obstruction. They did so because reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered. The support of a simple majority of senators is all that’s needed to overcome any effort to delay an up-or-down vote on final passage.
This feature of the reconciliation process is the most well-known, given the tendency common today to view Senate dysfunction solely through the lens of minority obstruction. From this perspective, reconciliation offers the majority party a way to pass its agenda over the objections of the minority party.
But this is a simplistic view of the legislative dynamics inherent in reconciliation. It overlooks other features of the process that complicate the majority’s efforts to pass tax reform and exacerbate the Senate’s underlying problems.Read More