Reconcilliation

A budget resolution process

appropriations committee

In my continuing effort to provide a site with simple, understandable information, here’s what I know about reconciliation. The reconciliation process is a congressional budgetary process, by which spending and taxing issues can be addressed. This process, requires a budget resolution to be part of it. The purpose of “reconciliation” is to provide instructions to committees that provide appropriations for various aspects of a budget. Their work, then, becomes part of the budget resolution.

The most commonly known fact about reconciliation is that it is a process by which any bill proceeding through congress this way, cannot be filibustered in the senate. This means any bill brought to the floors of the House or senate require only a simple majority for passage. However, not just anything can be passed through this budgetary process. Any item contained in a budgetary reconciliation bill, must affect, in some way, spending, taxing, or debt limits. This is not to say that extraneous items are totally off-limits. Technically, anything can be passed through reconciliation…..if there is no objection!  In today’s political climate, this is highly unlikely. If an item is included that is extraneous, and it is objected to, it is deemed  “not germane” and must be removed. This can only occur in the senate. It takes 60 votes to over ride an objection.

Reconciliation also has other rules that make it a unique process. It can be used a maximum of 3 times in a fiscal year. Once each for spending, taxing, or debt ceilings. If taxing and spending are dealt with in one bill, that is considered using it two times.  I wonder why we never hear about that third qualification? Since the republican control both chambers of congress, it would seem reconciliation could be used to pass a bill that prevents a debt ceiling increase. Its comical, that when they were in the minority, they railed against a debt ceiling increase, but now, magically, it’s needed! Imagine that!

So to the point of this discussion……let me put it in the context of the failed AHCA and the coming changes to Obamacare (ACA). A vast majority of republican voters, and supported by the efforts of the Freedom Caucus in the house, wanted a “full repeal” of the ACA. The ACA is a very complex and comprehensive law. It covers thousands of topics, many having nothing to do with taxes or spending. A full repeal could never go through reconciliation. Just to be clear, the so-called 2015 repeal passed by both houses and vetoed by President Obama, was not a full repeal.  Even the AHCA that was pulled from the House floor, recently, may not even gotten through the senate intact. It is to be seen that any compromise the republicans agree on, may still find difficulty getting through the senate.

If you would like to read more about reconciliation, here is an understandable site:
http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/introduction-to-budget-reconciliation


Just a short follow up to answer my final two questions that precipitated these explanations. Those final two questions asked:

4. Do you know the difference between majority rule and super majority rule?
5. As it applies to intelligence gathering do you know what the ‘gang of 8’ is?

Most of my friends said they knew what this meant……but so we all are sure.
In the context of the current political climate: Each state elects its representatives. A state has a number of House representatives equal to approximately, 1 for every 700,000 residents. That number changes, based on the total population of the United States. The number of House members is fixed at 435. So a simple majority in the House is 216, or 50% +1. In the Senate, each state elects two senators. A simple majority in the Senate is 50 +1. Since there are exactly 100 senators, there can be a tie. Ties are broken by the Vice President, providing the 50 +1 required to form a simple majority.

A super majority is often used in the context of a filibuster, but also finds itself in several parts of the constitution. A super-majority is a number of votes required in congress to pass certain types of legislation or confirmations. There are three types of super-majorities: 3/5, 2/3, or 3/4. The House has no super-majority requirements. All legislation is passed by simple majority. The senate must have 3/5, or 60 votes, to stop a filibuster (a cloture vote), for example. 2/3, or 66 votes are required to confirm appointees or ratify a treaty. And finally, 3/4 of the state legislatures are required to vote in the affirmative to pass any amendments to the constitution.

The last question was in the context of intelligence gathering. There are 16 intelligence gathering and analyzing agencies. Each has a head, and to date, only two of those heads have been appointed by president Trump. The rest are career personnel. These agencies collect what’s referred to as “raw data” as well as “metadata” for virtually all communication in the entire world.  There is very limited access to this raw data. Technically, there is only one person from each agency that can view any raw data. If that person analyzes that data to be important for national security reasons, and others must have access to it, a warrant from the FISA court must be obtained. A similar procedure exists in law enforcement, but a criminal court is used for the warranting process.

In addition to the 16 people mentioned above, eight members of congress can review raw data upon request. But even they, are not allowed to see the exposed names of American citizens in intelligence data collections. Those eight members of congress are:

Speaker, Paul Ryan
House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer
House Intelligence Committee chairman, David Nunez
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, Adam Schiff
House Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, Mark Warner

These men are referred to as the “gang of eight”. The people in these positions change, but the positions allowed to see communication intelligence do not.

 

Author: kgeorge152

Retired small business owner in manufacturing

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