Some real talk about amendments during reconciliation

July 25th, 2017

With the dramatic vote to proceed to the American Health Care Act (the repeal bill the Senate passed in 2015) this afternoon, the Senate teed up a process that will shortly move to reconciliation (more on that here).

As part of the reconciliation process, members will have an opportunity to offer a virtually unlimited amount of amendments during vote-a-rama. In fact, many senators are relying on that opportunity to have their ideas heard, and potentially, to change the underlying bill.

But is that as easy as it sounds? This is the Senate. So, no. Of course not.

As procedure expert James Wallner points out, the reality is that senators face “significant hurdles” in getting up-or-down votes on their amendments.

Among them are a lack of time for debate, restrictions on what policies the amendments can include, germaneness requirements, and, of course, the Byrd rule.

For any senators hoping their vote to proceed will unlock an opportunity to change the bill, word to the wise – it will be harder than you think.

Screenshot 2017-07-25 16.12.02