Capitol Ink | Workplace Training Exercise

Decoding Reconciliation: Why the Senate Only Needs 50 Votes on Tax Bill

White House Talks Tax Outreach, but Senators Guarded
Legislative director outlines ambitious timetable

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, left, here with Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso last week, has hopes for a bipartisan tax overhaul effort. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll)

The White House sees Democrats up for re-election in states President Donald Trump won as possible partners in their effort to overhaul the tax code, but Senate Republicans appear less optimistic about the chances of a bipartisan bill.

White House legislative director Marc Short said Monday the White House is not wed to using the often partisan reconciliation process to advance a tax overhaul, though senators were hesitant to rule out that procedural tool.

Capitol Ink | Senate Hack

The Convoluted Process for Dismantling Obamacare
Budget reconciliaton, explained

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

In the early hours of Jan. 12, the Senate took the first step in the convoluted process of dismantling and replacing the 2010 health care law. To overcome the potential filibuster power of Senate Democrats, GOP lawmakers are relying on budget reconciliation, the same procedural mechanism their counterparts across the aisle used seven years ago to implement parts of the health care overhaul.

The budget reconciliation process is filled with procedural complications — and in this case, political uncertainty — as GOP leaders and President-elect Donald Trump have signaled various ideas about the timing of changes.

Ep. 30: The GOP's Tool to Fast-Track Trump’s Plans, Privatize Medicare
The Week Ahead

Republican lawmakers could use a decades-old procedural maneuver, known as reconciliation, to bypass Democratic opposition and accelerate Donald Trump’s legislative initiatives. That could include cutting taxes, repealing parts of President Barack Obama’s health care law, privatizing Medicare or turning Medicaid into a block grant to the states. All they would need is a simple majority vote in the Senate. CQ Magazine deputy editor Shawn Zeller, CQ Roll Call’s Senate leadership reporter Bridget Bowman and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim explain how it could take shape.

Shooting Won't Affect Planned Parenthood Defunding Effort

Rubio, left, and Cruz, right, will be on the presidential campaign trail Monday. They, along with Sen. Mike Lee, center, have said they are opposed to a House reconciliation bill. (Photo by Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There's no reason to expect last week's shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility will alter the Senate's effort to block funding to the organization this week.  

Republican leadership had long planned to include language blocking federal Medicaid and family planning dollars from flowing to health care organizations that provide abortions as part of a budget reconciliation package that also curtails the 2010 health care overhaul.  Senior Republican aides said there is no plan to change course.  

Mike Lee in the Middle of Reconciliation Battle

Lee, center, is joining fellow Republicans Rubio, left, and Cruz in pushing leadership on the Affordable Care Act. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee will find himself in the middle of the debate on the Affordable Care Act on Monday, as well as between two colleagues running for president.  

The Utah Republican and chairman of the  Senate Steering Committee is joining fellow Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida in their opposition to anything short of a full repeal of the law. The topic will likely come up in a meeting Monday of Senate Republicans, and the chamber could begin debating it under the budget reconciliation process as early as Dec. 2.  

Cruz: Senate Umpire Works for Us

Cruz speaks to reporters. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:54 p.m. | GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz signaled the Senate parliamentarian should be ousted or ignored if a full repeal of Obamacare is deemed to violate budget rules.  

The budget reconciliation rules allow legislation through the Senate without the customary filibuster threats and need for 60 votes, but impose severe restrictions on content not related to budgeting, under a rule named for former Sen. Robert C. Byrd. "At the end of the day, the Senate parliamentarian is an employee of the Senate. Virtually every Republican campaigned promising full repeal," Cruz said Thursday. "And a great many promised explicitly full repeal on reconciliation, and we should do exactly what we said we would do."