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You'll Be Hearing More About This

The key dynamic as far as passing important laws is the 60-vote requirement in the Senate. Passing laws through the reconciliation process, which only requires 50 Senate votes, is therefore crucial. Senate Democrats are preparing another reconciliation bill this year:

The budget resolution being drafted by Senate Democrats will include reconciliation instructions, according to Democrats briefed on the matter.
The reconciliation instructions, which allow legislation to move through the upper chamber with a simple majority instead of 60 votes, will be included to ease the passage of deficit reduction measures, according to Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee.

But the reconciliation language could also be used to pass the extension of expiring tax cuts, job-creation measures and energy legislation, according to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Energy legislation, you say? That's interesting. Last year, moderate Senate Democrats refused to allow energy legislation to be passed through reconciliation. If that's different, it changes the whole ballgame. Obviously, there are limits to what you can do through reconciliation. But it does create some possibilities. I'd like to see them just pass a carbon tax-and-rebate plan through reconciliation, not that I expect to see it happen.

In any case, as the Congressional session winds down, reconciliation is going to be the biggest weapon left in the Democrats' arsenal. It will be interesting to see how they deploy it.