© Reuters. US Senate Majority Leader Schumer gives a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate MP ruled on Monday that Democrats can use a procedural tool known as reconciliation to pass more legislation this year, said a spokesman for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, which could clear the way for the approval of an infrastructure bill without Republican support. Spokesman Justin Goodman said Democrats hadn’t decided whether to use reconciliation, which they used to pass President Joe Biden‘s $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill last month with no Republican votes. But Monday’s ruling by Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough means they can do so with just a simple majority in the Senate, treating the measure as a revision of budget legislation. Doing so would avoid potential Republican obstructionism, in which the legislation would need 60 votes to pass. The Senate is currently split 50-50 between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, but the Democrats have control of the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie. “The MP’s opinion is an important step forward that this key avenue is available to Democrats if needed,” Goodman said. Biden proposed a $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan last week, which Republicans have said they would oppose. Biden has said he wants to negotiate the measure with lawmakers from both parties. But he would be willing to pass the infrastructure bill without the support of Republican lawmakers in the absence of a bipartisan agreement, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Sunday. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that Biden’s plan would raise taxes and increase debt, vowing to fight it “every step of the way.” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said he was pleased with the MP’s decision. “The American people want bold action to address our country’s many challenges, and Democrats now have more options to overcome Republican obstruction and get things done,” he said.