The Byrd Rule is a Senate rule that amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to allow Senators, during the Reconciliation Process, to block a piece of legislation if it purports significantly to increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term or is otherwise an "extraneous matter" as set forth in the Budget Act. It is named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.
Reconciliation generally involves legislation that changes the budget deficit (or conceivably, the surplus). The "Byrd Rule" (2 U.S.C. § 644, named after Democratic Senator Robert Byrd) was adopted in 1985 and amended in 1990 to outline which provisions reconciliation can and cannot be used for. The Byrd Rule defines a provision to be "extraneous" (and therefore ineligible for reconciliation) in six cases:
- if it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
- if it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
- if it is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
- if it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
- if it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure, though the provisions in question may receive an exception if they in total in a Title of the measure net to a reduction in the deficit; and
- if it recommends changes in Social Security.
Any senator may raise a procedural objection to a provision believed to be extraneous, which will then be ruled on by the Presiding Officer, customarily on the advice of the Senate Parliamentarian. A vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling. The Presiding Officer need not necessarily follow the advice of the Parliamentarian, and the Parliamentarian can be replaced by the Senate Majority Leader. However, this has not been done since 1975.
- Summary of the Byrd Rule
- "Firing Or Ignoring The Parliamentarian – It's Called Leadership". Retrieved 2010-02-22.
- According to Robert Dove, chief Senate Parliamentarian for 12 years; Healthcare reform and reconciliation a bad mix, ex-parliamentarian says, retrieved 2010-03-02
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