To the editor:
In 1992, business tycoon Ross Perot got 19% of the vote running for president but is remembered by his “but the devil’s in the details” quip. President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill’s 2,135 pages hide lots of devils. One is an immigration provision giving up to 10 years of work authorization for millions of people illegally present in the U.S. If an amnesty qualifies as infrastructure, social or otherwise, it stretches the meaning of “infrastructure” to meaninglessness.
Only bona fide budgetary provisions can be considered under reconciliation, which allows budgetary matters to bypass the U.S. Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with only 51 votes. Not everything qualifies as a budgetary matter because it might have budgetary implications.
This tactic of stretching the meaning of “budget” to include substantive legislation is no more than a legal fiction to de facto repeal the filibuster. But the filibuster has served the country well by assuring that substantive legislation enjoys broad public support.
By contrast, some analysts have also concluded that the “Build Back Better” bill contains tax provisions worth billions benefiting illegally present persons, changes which are, whether or not they make economic, political or logical sense, bona fide budgetary provisions under reconciliation rules.
Because the U.S. Senate abolished the 60-vote threshold for nominees, three controversial Supreme Court justices were recently seated who are about to hear a case which might overturn “Roe v. Wade.” Were the House to encourage the Senate to further erode the filibuster, many more policies safeguarded in laws liberals and Democrats hold dear, such as civil and abortion rights, might be endangered were the other side to come into control.
Restraints on reconciliation may seem onerous to the side that has a majority but lacks the Senate supermajority needed to pass legislative changes. But is it worth endangering gains already made were the other side to momentarily gain the majority?
-Dino Drudi, Alexandria