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US Senate parliamentarian says Democrats can use reconciliation to pass more bills

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Senate parliamentarian on Monday decided Democrats could use a procedural tool known as reconciliation to pass more laws this year, a spokesperson for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, who could open the way to the adoption of a bill on infrastructure without Republican support.

FILE PHOTO: US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praises the legislative accomplishments of Senate Democrats as he holds a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, United States, March 25, 2021 . REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / Pool

Spokesman Justin Goodman said Democrats had not decided whether or not to use reconciliation, which they used to pass President Joe Bidens’ $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on last month without Republican votes.

But Monday’s ruling by Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough means they can do so with a simple majority in the Senate, treating the measure as a review of budget legislation. This would bypass a possible Republican filibuster, in which the legislation would need 60 votes to pass.

The Senate is currently split 50-50 between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, but Democrats have control of the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.

The opinion of parliamentarians is an important step forward in making this key path available to Democrats if needed, Goodman said.

Biden proposed a $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan last week, which Republicans have said they will oppose.

Biden said he wanted to negotiate the measure with lawmakers on both sides. But he would be prepared to push through the infrastructure bill without the backing of Republican lawmakers in the absence of a bipartisan deal, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Sunday.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that the Bidens plan would raise taxes and debt, and he vowed to fight it every step of the way.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said he was satisfied with the parliamentarians’ decision.

The American people want bold action to address our country’s many challenges, and Democrats now have more options to overcome the Republican obstruction and get things done, he said.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Edited by Peter Cooney

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