As alluded to in this MSNBC clip, the strategy of at least some of the elements of the Republican party is to lay blame for the looming shutdown of the US federal government due to lack of funding provisions at the feet of Democrats. Given that Republicans currently have majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as the Presidency, this seems strange. It appears to me that for budget purposes, the "reconciliation" process could be used by Senate leadership to pass legislation providing funding, circumventing the anticipated Democratic filibuster to block such legislation. Why is this apparently not an option?


2 Answers 2


Reconciliation cannot be used here. One of the rules for the reconciliation process is that the bill cannot significantly change federal outlays or revenues. Senate Republicans want some major cuts in spending, which would violate that rule, so it would need 60 votes to pass rather than the simple majority that reconciliation requires. They only have a 51-seat majority right now, so in order to pass whatever plan they come up with, they would have to get 9 Democrats to vote for it (assuming every Republican did, which is also unlikely).

The tax bill that passed last month was able to use the reconciliation process because the majority of the tax cuts were to the business tax rate. The majority of tax revenue comes from payroll and personal income taxes, not corporations, so if you factor expected economic growth into the equation (and the additional revenues that growth would generate), the corporate tax rate cut becomes revenue-neutral which reconciliation requires. The bill had to get creative in order to fit within the reconciliation rules. This is why the personal tax cuts were so small and will expire, deductions were reduced, and measurement metrics were changed.

Even though Republicans are in the majority, it's a very slim majority, and they just don't have the votes to make large changes to the Federal budget without Democrats support.

  • One news source I was listening to today said that 4 Republicans have declared intentions to vote no, so that they need 13 Democrats to vote their way. (Not disagreeing with what you say, just as awareness for the situation as of 1pm Washington time.)
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 19, 2018 at 19:20
  • 1
    Isn't the whole point of reconciliation that you can't filibuster it?
    – cpast
    Jan 20, 2018 at 1:17
  • @cpast For bills that are relative neutral and covered by the reconciliation process. Continuing resolutions and budget bills aren't covered. Jan 20, 2018 at 5:46
  • @DrunkCynic But that's not how this (for some reason upvoted) answer describes it. It claims that they can't use reconciliation because there is a filibuster. In fact, it specifically says that a continuing resolution could be passed with reconciliation. And I think that "budget bills" are covered by reconciliation for some definition of budget bill.
    – Brythan
    Jan 20, 2018 at 7:04
  • @Brythan; I added the filibuster bit in haste before I left my computer. You're right; it's poorly worded. I need to revert back to revision 1 until I have time to do a proper edit, but I can't seem to do that from the mobile app. Could you do that for me?
    – Wes Sayeed
    Jan 20, 2018 at 7:22

The GOP might have the numerical majority in the 2 houses, but there are different factions within the GOP (and also within the democrats) and not all have the same views on how the government should do the budget.

Some want more spending, some want less spending.

So, some GOP members will not vote for the budget if such and such spending is included or not in the budget.

They need to have some democrats to vote with them; those democrats want different things and they need to "deal" with the GOP to have those things in the budget (DACA seems to be a big issue today); and some GOP members do not want to deal in one way or the other.

And the democrats do not need to try to get a deal, because they have the minority.

  • 3
    This does not answer why reconciliation will not (can not) be used.
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 19, 2018 at 19:22
  • This seems to be aimed at a previous version of the question. It explains why Republicans are having trouble making things work, which seems like the start to answer, but it would be nice if it was tied in more to the current version.
    – user9389
    Jan 19, 2018 at 23:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .