Pelosi eyes reconciliation to boost Obamacare, pandemic aid

A simple majority in the Senate is needed to pass reconciliation legislation, which makes it attractive for one party with complete power in Washington, though certain limitations apply. It can only be used to pass legislation that affects spending and revenues, while some areas like Social Security are off-limits.

Democrats used the procedure to pass much of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans later made a failed attempt to repeal the health law through reconciliation, then used the procedure again to pass their 2017 tax overhaul, H.R. 1 (115).

Democrats have also discussed the possibility of using reconciliation to pass an enormous green infrastructure package under a prospective Biden administration, among other initiatives.

While Congress is limited in how often it can use the procedure, there’s a chance that Democrats could tap it twice next calendar year. That’s because Congress never adopted a fiscal 2021 budget resolution, and it still can pass one for fiscal 2022. Congressional budgets don’t become law, but the fiscal roadmaps include instructions for reconciliation, which are needed to unlock the powerful process.

A spokesperson for House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) confirmed that passing two budgets is a possible scenario for Democrats.