Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Republican Lawmakers Move Forward on Budget Resolution

Drew Thies

Members of Congress vote today on a budget package put together by Republican leadership with the intention of moving forward with plans to repeal the 2010 health care law.

The resolution, S. Con. Res. 3, sets in motion the complex budget reconciliation process, which Republicans hope to use to avoid the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster in the Senate. Republicans control 54 seats in the Senate and a reconciliation order only needs a simple majority to pass.

The Senate will continuously vote on the budget starting Wednesday and potentially going early into Thursday morning. The “vote-o-rama” includes over 100 amendments to the budget resolution that must be debated and voted on in a limited timeframe per floor rules.

A budget resolution does not make any policy changes but instead sets budget terms for separate policy items pursued by relevant committees. Because of this structure, there are strict rules on what can and cannot be included in the reconciliation process. Items that do not have a budgetary impact and social security changes, for example, are excluded.

Some Republicans are wary of beginning work on repealing the health care law before a replacement plan is finalized. One of the amendments to the resolution is a deadline extension—from Jan. 27 to Mar. 3—for the development of legislation replacing the current law.

The House is expected to vote on the budget package as early as Friday, but concerns about replacement legislation may cause delays.

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