Senate MP may have thwarted Schumer’s plan to legalize marijuana
There has been some debate over the past few months that the Senate majority, Chuck Schumer, might use some clever tricks to get around the requirement of a super majority of 60 votes to enforce comprehensive marijuana reform law. As it stands, an old rule known as filibuster stands in Schumer’s way to securing the votes necessary to bring legal weed to fruition. But if he could wrap it up in a proposal for a budget vote, chances are it could be passed by a simple majority.
If the term budget reconciliation sounds familiar, it’s because Democrats have only been able to achieve something like this in recent months. The budget reconciliation process allows the Senate to pass bills by simple majority (51 votes), essentially moving a bill without Republican support from the Upper Chamber. This is how they passed President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill despite Republicans having a fit of how this would cripple America.
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The problem with this tactic, however, is that the controlling party can typically only use it once per fiscal year.
But Schumer relied on Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, believed The Democrats had additional budget reconciliations. And if that were the case, he could try to include a long-awaited proposal on marijuana reform in another resolution. Schumer authorized that was possible in a recent press conference. He told reporters that he would confirm it in a couple of weeks.
The next step appeared to be subject to a decision by Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough.
The Democrats soon got good news.
In April, the Senate MP found that the party did indeed have additional options for budget voting. “The MP has indicated that a revised budget decision may contain instructions on budget reconciliation. This confirms the head of state’s interpretation of the budget bill and allows the Democrats to use additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if the Republican obstruction persists, ”said Schumer’s spokesman said, according to The Hill.
However, it seems that Schumer exaggerated how much authority these reconciliations would give them. One recently report of Punchbowl News suggests the MP’s decision places tight limits on what Democrats can do with their newly enlightened option.
“The majority party – in this case the Democrats – cannot use reconciliation to bypass the regular legislative process, and there must be reasons beyond political expediency to trigger the majority threshold, such as an economic downturn,” it says the news source wrote of MacDonough’s decision. “In other words, the MP said Dems cannot use this as an abbreviation.”
Although the Democrats thought they had two more automatic budget balances this year, MacDonough’s ruling leaves them one. Schumer only has one chance to overtake critical points on the Biden agenda. And trying to convince the president that marijuana legalization has to be part of the deal is unlikely to work.
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Biden’s focus is on its American Jobs Plan, American Families Plan, and a Medicare Extension. That effort was originally supposed to be split between the two budget decisions, but now Schumer needs to find a way to do it all with one. Schumer would have a hard time convincing the Biden government to press weed into it. After all, Biden isn’t even sure if full legalization is the thing to do.
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Even the attempt to force a revision of another budget decision has to survive the entire committee and amendment process. This is where the Republicans could step in and build a vote. Senate Democrats simply do not have enough majority to take full advantage of the budget reconciliation process this year. Any misstep at this point could overturn Biden’s agenda.
RELATED: Senate Democrats Must Destroy Mitch McConnell For Marijuana Reform
So it seems that Schumer has to walk a fine line to advance the good of the Democratic Party. This could mean that his heavily publicized plans to advance a comprehensive cannabis reform move could be put on hold. It just doesn’t look like the Senate MP will allow Democrats to toss any old issue and carry it to the finish line with the budget reconciliation process.
Marijuana legalization will likely need to be done through regular legislative means (and subject to the GOP filibuster). Unfortunately, trying to legalize weed nationwide in this way means nothing but certain death.