Tags: elizabeth macdonough | GOP | senate | legislation

The Hill: Senate Parliamentarian Holds Power Over GOP Legislation

Image: The Hill: Senate Parliamentarian Holds Power Over GOP Legislation
(AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 May 2017 08:57 AM

Republican leaders aiming to use budget reconciliation rules to address the tax code or the healthcare system must abide by decisions of Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, according to The Hill. 

"The parliamentarian makes the calls. She's able to say what can be voted on with a simple majority versus what requires a supermajority, so this gives the parliamentarian extraordinary influence on the outcome," Kent Conrad, a former North Dakota senator, told The Hill.

"She sets the guardrails for how the Senate can proceed. She's the interpreter of what they've done in the past," Sarah Binder, pollitical science professor at George Washington University, told The Hill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell's deputy chief of staff Don Stewart praised MacDonough, saying she is "a brilliant lawyer…and a walking encyclopedia of Senate precedent and procedure," The Hill notes.

Budget reconciliation rules would prevent a filibuster by Democrats, who plan to ask MacDonough to utilize the Byrd Rule test, named after late Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd, to see whether a provision's impact on the budget is "incidental."

If so, legislators would have to remove it, The Hill noted.

Senators in both parties have said that MacDonough is likely to rule against parts of the House healthcare bill, according to The Hill.

"The leader of the free world stands powerless against a little lawyer in the Senate named Elizabeth MacDonough…she's the one keeping Trump from fulfilling his promise to fully repeal Obamacare," writes Phil Wegmann in a March column for the Washington Examiner.

The parliamentarian's job requires being above the influence of party politics, but some critics have called MacDonough's impartiality into question.

Wegmann said MacDonough's social media includes photos with former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina have also taken issue with MacDonough's authority.

"The Senate parliamentarian does not ultimately determine what is allowable under reconciliation," Cruz said in March, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

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Republican leaders aiming to use budget reconciliation rules to address the tax code or the healthcare system must abide by decisions of Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, according to The Hill.
elizabeth macdonough, GOP, senate, legislation
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2017-57-09
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 08:57 AM
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