While the budget passed early this morning won’t be signed into law, it must be approved by both chambers for committees to begin drafting reconciliation legislation. Reconciliation is one of the most powerful weapons in the majority’s procedural arsenal. Under reconciliation, bills are protected from the 60-vote filibuster so they can be passed through the Senate and House by a simple majority. Democrats used it to finish passing the ACA seven years ago, and now Republicans intend to return the favor to dismantle the law. There’s a hitch, though: Under budget reconciliation, only provisions that affect federal spending or taxes can be targeted. That means Republicans cannot completely eliminate or replace the law in one fell swoop. The final call on what can or cannot be addressed in a reconciliation bill will be made by the Senate parliamentarian. The GOP did a dry-run in the last Congress, passing a reconciliation bill that killed key parts of the ACA, including the individual mandate, insurance subsidies for consumers and the Medicaid expansion. President Obama vetoed the legislation, but that won’t be an issue this time around with Trump in the White House.
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