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Procedure and politics in the 115th Congress

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Conventional wisdom paints a grim picture of Congress as deadlocked and dysfunctional. Many Americans believe the filibuster is preventing anything other than the least controversial bills from being passed. However, in her new book, “Exceptions to the Rule,” Brookings scholar Molly Reynolds examines the various procedures, such as the budget reconciliation process, that allow  a Senate majority to enact important policy measures even when the chamber seems otherwise paralyzed.

With these procedures at the center of recent and upcoming legislative debates, on August 2, Brookings brought together a panel of experts to discuss procedural politics in the early days of the 115th Congress. Focusing specifically on two of the GOP’s signature platform promises—health care overhaul and tax reform—the experts examined how effectively the Republican majority is using the tools at its disposal. Was it prudent to use the reconciliation process for health care legislation before tax reform? Will the failure of one priority policy doom the future of the other?

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