Budget reconciliation is a procedure that allows certain legislation to avoid the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Policies passed through this process require only a majority to pass rather than the 60 votes usually required, which makes it an appealing route to accomplish legislative goals. However, the process comes with constraints. Any measures passed through reconciliation can only affect government spending or revenues and can’t increase the federal deficit beyond 10 years.
With a high degree of polarization between the two political parties and a recent trend of Congress passing large legislative changes through reconciliation, this limited procedural mechanism may be the one hope for Congress to advance climate policy this year. How could budget reconciliation include climate policies such as a clean electricity standard or a carbon tax? What measures have historically been permissible through budget reconciliation and how would climate measures fit within the confines of the rules?