Cut Inflation Act Passes After Long, Exhausting Weekend in US Senate

Patrick Leahy arrives for the vote-a-rama in his Batman wheelchair.

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After limited debate on the reconciliation bill, the Senate proceeded to vote-a-rama, so called because it involves uninterrupted votes on as many amendments as possible without debate. Changes must be deficit-neutral or deficit-reducing, or “relevant”. The most recent vote-a-rama was in August last year, during which there were 43 votes by roll call.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s a great story, but I really think it needs a little lingo to make it sing. So, to paraphrase Olivia Newton John and Dua Lipa, let’s get technical. The reconciliation process is incredibly complicated and arduous. First, Congress must pass a budget resolution outlining guidelines for reconciliation legislation. While Congress approved a budget resolution for this bill last year, we will skip this step for the good of all. Once the reconciliation law is prepared, the senators submit it to the Senate parliamentarian, an expert in Senate procedure, for review.

The parliamentarian can determine whether the legislation violates the “Byrd Rule”, so named in honor of the late Senator Robert Byrd. The Byrd Rule allows senators to block provisions of the reconciliation bill that are considered “foreign,” meaning it does not change spending or revenue levels. A senator may rise on a point of order to delete the offending portion of the bill, which may be waived by a vote of 60 senators.

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