Points of Order Limiting the Contents of Reconciliation Legislation: In Brief [October 14, 2015]   [open pdf - 465KB]

"Reconciliation operates as an adjunct to the budget resolution process and occurs only if reconciliation instructions are included in the budget resolution. Reconciliation instructions direct the relevant committees to develop legislation achieving specific budgetary outcomes. Instructed committees are directed to submit legislative recommendations proposing changes to 'direct spending' or 'revenue' laws to their respective Budget Committees by a deadline prescribed in the budget resolution. The Budget Committees then incorporate them into an omnibus budget reconciliation bill without making any substantive revisions. The expedited consideration of a reconciliation bill is prescribed in Section 310 of the Budget Act. Debate in the Senate on any reconciliation measure is limited to 20 hours (and 10 hours on a conference report). As a practical matter, this debate limit makes it unnecessary for the Senate to invoke cloture in order to reach a final vote on a reconciliation bill, thereby making it possible to consider and pass a reconciliation bill by a simple majority vote. As detailed below, various provisions in the Budget Act (as well as other provisions adopted by the House and Senate) also impose constraints on the policy content or budgetary impact of reconciliation measures or amendments. The provisions cited in this report have been adopted pursuant to the constitutional authority of each chamber to determine its rules of proceeding, but further action of the House and Senate, such as in a budget resolution, may be used to revise these constraints. These prohibitions are enforced through points of order against measures or provisions that are alleged to violate these rules."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43885
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