Ready for more reconciliation?

READY FOR MORE RECONCILIATION?…. Budget reconciliation rules have been around for a while, but never came to the public’s attention in earnest until this year — when Republicans decided the legislative procedure is somehow controversial, despite all the times they used it when they were in the majority.

And while the fight over health care reform wrapped up last month, reconciliation talk isn’t quite finished yet.

Senate Democrats have written their budget resolution so they can pass jobs legislation using reconciliation, the controversial process used last month to move healthcare reform.

The resolution does not specify what specific jobs measures could be covered, and does not explicitly allow for the use of reconciliation rules to pass energy legislation or the extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and a number of other Democrats on Tuesday, however, said the fast-track process could be used to move tax cuts, energy legislation and more later this year.

“There are many different areas it could be used,” Cardin said.

What a good point — reconciliation can be used in “many different areas.”

The reference to energy legislation wasn’t a direct quote from Cardin, and as far as I can tell, this is the first time the notion of using reconciliation for the energy bill has been raised in earnest by a senator. Here’s hoping it’s not the last.

Jon Chait added, “[A]s the Congressional session winds down, reconciliation is going to be the biggest weapon left in the Democrats’ arsenal. It will be interesting to see how they deploy it.”

It will, indeed. Given all the things Dems might want to do before the end of this Congress, reconciliation may prove to make the difference between success and disappointment.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.