On Monday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that Congress could revise the budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2021 to create additional reconciliation instructions, meaning that the Democratic majority has two more chances this year to pass priority legislation through the upper chamber with a simple majority vote: once under a revised FY 2021 budget resolution, and once under a FY 2022 budget resolution. This ruling means the Senate could have two chances to pass President Biden’s American Jobs Plan with a majority vote if the Senate splits the $2.25 trillion package into two smaller packages. Under this splitting scenario, President Biden and Congressional Democrats could choose to divide the American Jobs Plan into a “traditional infrastructure” package featuring funding for roads, bridges, rail, etc., and a second “untraditional infrastructure” package featuring funding for his remaining priorities including domestic manufacturing, research & development, education, and job training initiatives. Congress could use the revised FY 2021 budget resolution and a FY 2022 budget resolution for the two bills.
In order to comply with the Byrd rule, any spending on infrastructure in a reconciliation bill would either have to be temporary or be offset so that it does not affect the deficit outside a specific budget window, usually 10 years. This restriction could make it difficult to fund larger projects like high-speed rail, which can take decades to develop and build.  Additionally, transferring funding to the expiring Highway Trust Fund — the main source of federal funding for highways and mass transit that is set to expire on September 30th — would not be allowed in a reconciliation bill. Specific earmarks also would not pass the Byrd rule, including funding for a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension into Silicon Valley or the Gateway Project in the New York City Region, both significant priorities for Senate Democrats.