Budget Agreement Does Not Prevent Senate Minority from Blocking Tax Increases

By G. William Hoagland, Steve Bell

Thursday, December 12, 2013

KEYWORDS: BIPARTISAN BUDGET ACT OF 2013

Alex Gold contributed to this post.

We would like to provide some clarity in response to inquiries about whether section 114 (page 17) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 will diminish the rights of the Senate minority to object to proposals to replace the sequester with tax increases. It does not.

  • The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 includes a subsection entitled, “DEFICIT-NEUTRAL RESERVE FUND TO REPLACE SEQUESTRATION.”
  • Such reserve funds are common in budget legislation and have been used since the mid-1980s—this is nothing out of the ordinary for budget deliberation procedures.
  • This subsection does not deny any rights to the Senate minority that they have had under reserve funds in the past.
  • The subsection removes a 60-vote Budget Act point of order for the consideration of legislation that would offset increased spending associated with eliminating savings from sequestration if offset with increased revenues.
  • Any bill or amendment that increased taxes (or did anything else) to replace the sequester would still be subject to the normal  60-vote threshold for consideration of such legislation.
  • Therefore, this section maintains all of the historical prerogatives of the Senate minority when considering legislation resulting from the use of a reserve fund mechanism.