Reconciliation Nuts and Bolts
I’d like to raise an issue for those who know more about Senate procedure than I do. As I understand the way reconciliation works, the time for debate on a bill is strictly limited. There is, however, no limit on the number of amendments that can be offered.
Doesn’t that allow a minority to filibuster notwithstanding the formal time limits? For example, I’ve seen a suggestion that somebody could introduce the United States Code as an amendment. In the absence of unanimous consent, that amendment would have to read in its entirety. (And would take forever). Now somebody could raise a point of order against the amendment, but can they do that before it’s read? And if so, does debate on the point of order count as a debate on the bill or a debate on the amendment?
When I was in law school, John Langbein said that the rules of an adversarial criminal trial were unworkable if everyone pressed them to their limits. The criminal justice system, he said, only works because most defendants don’t have the wherewithal to do that. The Senate is similar. Any determined group of Senators can find a way to use the rules to block this bill if they think it is in their political interest to do so.