Senate Democrats hoping to advance President Joe Biden's agenda without requiring the support of their Republican colleagues to avert the filibuster were delivered a major piece of good news on Monday night.
Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that Democrats can use the budget reconciliation process again in the current fiscal year, according to a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions," a spokesperson for Schumer's office said Monday night. "This confirms the Leader’s interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues."
The ruling potentially gives Democrats a path forward on the president's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan, meaning Democrats could pass the measure with a simple majority rather than 60 vote filibuster threshold, which would require the support of 10 Republicans.
Schumer and his top aides argued that revising the budget would "trigger an additional set of reconciliation instructions," meaning additional majority votes, which could lead to a 50-50 tie in the split Senate, broken by Vice President Kamala Harris.
While Democrats can't use reconciliation to pass key issues like voting rights or gun control, the parliamentarian's ruling gives Democrats a major win amid Republican opposition to Biden's agenda.
Republicans have promised to make the path forward on the bill difficult, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) saying earlier Monday that he "cant imagine" Biden's proposal is "going to be very appealing to many Republicans."
"It is described as an infrastructure bill, but as I listened to it and looked at what was being advocated here it was another round of massive spending with a huge tax increase," McConnell said at a tour of a Kentucky vaccination facility Monday.
"While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed," Schumer's office's statement concluded.
Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, which did not receive a single Republican vote in either chamber of Congress.