The filibuster is an oddity of Senate procedure at the federal level, which, when available, allows Senators in the minority to influence the content of bills by threatening to block consideration of it. In the last number of years, the Democratic and Republican Senate leaders have eliminated this rule for Presidential appointments. Although it still remains for legislation, the Senate can write it away for bills with budgetary impacts. That’s what the Senate did last week, paving the way for passage of a tax reform bill by a mere Senate majority, rather than 60 votes out of 100 if the filibuster were available.
USA Today explains:
The biggest thing — which senators from both parties emphasized this week — is the passage of “reconciliation instructions” that tell the Senate Finance Committee that a tax bill cannot be filibustered if it adds $1.5 trillion or less to the deficit. …
The budget also includes reconciliation language that the energy committee could use to ease restrictions on oil drilling in the Arctic, so a bill that is brought up to do that also may not be filibustered.”
Want to learn more. Listen to our In Brief podcasts.