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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 10, 2022

“A Free-Range Chicken that Can Run Wherever the Majority Wants It To”: Budget Reconciliation and the Contemporary U.S. Senate

Molly E. Reynolds
From the journal The Forum


Since its early uses in the early 1980s, the budget reconciliation process has played an important role in how the U.S. Congress legislates. Because the procedures protect certain legislation from a filibuster in the Senate, the reconciliation rules both shape, and are shaped by, the upper chamber in significant ways. After providing a brief overview of the process, I discuss first how partisanship in the Senate has affected the use of the reconciliation procedures. Next, I describe two sets of consequences of the contemporary reconciliation process, on negotiation and on policy design. I conclude with some observations about the relationship of reconciliation to the prospects for broader procedural change in the Senate.

Corresponding author: Molly E. Reynolds, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, USA, E-mail:

Published Online: 2022-01-10

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