Democrats may exclude the GOP from forthcoming infrastructure and drug-pricing bills to pass them with no Republican votes, report says

  • Democrats may use the budget reconciliation mechanism to pass upcoming bills, Politico reported. 
  • The mechanism would allow Democrats to pass infrastructure and drugs bills with no GOP votes. 
  • It was used to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, upsetting Republicans and even some Democrats.
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Democratic leaders are considering bypassing Senate Republicans again to pass bills on infrastructure, green energy and drug pricing using the budget reconciliation process, Politico reported Sunday.

Top Democrats increasingly believe that Senate Republicans are determined to block President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, and that they would have to use the budget reconciliation mechanism to get major bills passed. 

The mechanism was used to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in February without a single Republican vote. 

Under the rule, bills can pass with a simple majority vote in the Senate, meaning that Democrats can evade Republican filibusters and the 60-vote majority needed to pass bills under the usual rules. 

The Senate is currently divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker vote. 

This means that if Democrats try and get bills passed under the usual Senate they need the support of at least 10 Republicans, a tough ask amid deep partisan divides. 

Insider reported on Sunday that Democratic plans for the infrastructure bill were running into a wall of GOP opposition. One roadblock is planned tax hikes to pay for the bill’s provisions. 

According to Politico’s sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer haven’t yet settled on using the mechanism to pass the Biden administration’s next big legislative priorities: a huge green infrastructure bill, and a bill regulating drug pricing. 

They are still seeking to secure GOP backing for the bills, but there are few signs that it could come.

The mechanism can only be used one more time before the mid-terms in 2022, because of time restraints and how complex it is to deploy.

Democrats could seek to pass the infrastructure, green energy, and drug-pricing measures all in one package, but then would be unable to try again for some time.

However there are problems with the approach.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin previously said that he would will block the infrastructure bill if no Republican support is secured.

Manchin is a moderate Democrat, representing a largely Republican-leaning state, and his comments highlighted the difficulty of gaining support for what goes into a second budget reconciliation bill across the Democratic caucus.

Given how tight the Senate numbers are, Manchin — or any other Democratic Senator — can block a bill by themselves. 

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