Both the House and Senate have passed their respective tax reform bills, but keep the cork in the champagne. The process has to overcome one more hurdle before it hits the president’s desk: The conference committee — the ad hoc, temporary panel created to reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills.
If you haven’t heard of a conference committee for a while (or ever), it’s understandable. Conference committees, once used repeatedly, are now rarely seen around D.C. In the 106th Congress (1999-2000), conference committees convened 38 times. The 113th Congress (2013-2014) appointed just three.
In part, this is because the process has become far less meaningful than it used to be. Historically, conference committees have been hotbeds for deal making and hard-nosed negotiations among lots of members, with each chamber fighting for its priorities as well as its prestige. The conference committee for the 1981 omnibus budget reconciliation, for example, involved over 250 senators and congressman who met in 58 subconferences to consider nearly 300 issues.
Read the rest of this post on The Hill.