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Parliamentarian rules for GOP on 2 technical points – Reconciliation bill will go back to House

This has set off a firestorm after the vote-a-rama in the Senate tonight that stretched to nearly 3am. According to Reuters:

Senate Democratic aides said the parliamentarian upheld two Republican challenges on points of order under budget reconciliation rules, requiring the House to approve the package again.

The points of order involved the revamp of the student loan program, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Under the reconciliation rules, each provision in the package must have a budgetary impact.

The budgetary impact rule is also known as the “Byrd rule”. As I understand it, a vote can be taken to waive the Byrd rule, but what I’m not clear on is whether Harry Reid just got outmaneuvered.

Toward the end of this marathon session, the Republicans agreed to withdraw the majority of their amendments and only vote on 40. Shortly after that agreement, the news of the parliamentarian’s ruling was announced. If Reid agreed to close the amendments and then news of the ruling came down, it makes me wonder if he let himself get boxed in to not having a vote on a waiver of the Byrd rule. (They’ve been voting down Byrd waivers all night, by the way).

Since the language at issue is already in the reconciliation bill, a waiver would simply allow it to remain, not requiring an amendment. It seems simple enough to fix without sending back to the House, given the Senate Democratic majority and a pretty strong showing of strength tonight.

Stay tuned…

Update: I was just reminded that it takes 60 votes to waive the Byrd rule, so yeah, it’ll go back to the House for another vote. It’s not a huge big deal, except that it’ll give Republicans a small tiny window of time to go even more wingy than they already have.

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