The Budget Reconciliation Act of 2015

There’s plenty of on-again, off-again talk about what Republicans will do over the next two years if they gain control of the Senate. At Slate (presumably among his final columns before he moves on to Bloomberg) Dave Weigel has by far the most extensive set of speculations, based on talking to the very GOP folk who are drooling over gavels. pre

Most of what he projects is reasonably obvious once you think it through: (1) Republicans probably don’t need to get rid of last year’s filibuster reforms to thrwart Obama’s remaining nominations since they’ll be able to kill them in committees in most cases; (2) they’s counting on it making a difference to the public that Obama is killing legislation passed by both Houses, and opposed to the two Houses disagreeing; (3) some would-be committee chairs (e.g., James Inhofe R-Oil) want to aggressively pursuing bicameral actions to stop or reverse regulatory actions; and (4) Chuck Grassley, who would chair Judiciary, seems the most avid about holding “investigations”–i.e., holding show trials.

But the most obscure and potentially the most important question is whether a Republican Congress would choose to use the budget reconciliation process–which bypasses the normal super-majority requirements of Senate action–to create a high-stakes confrontation with Obama over very big things–things like Obamacare. The temptation will be strong, since the Affordable Care Act was enacted via the functional equivalent of reconciliation (thanks to Scott Brown) and GOPers were planning to repeal it via reconciliation in 2013 if the 2012 elections had turned out a bit differently. Budget procedures are flexible enough to make a monstrous reconciliation bill possible. It will probably be a test of how willing congressional Republicans are to make life complicated for their presidential candidate–and even for some of their own blue-state members who are up in 2016–in how audacious they become in 2015.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.