Reconciliation legislation is used by Congress to bring existing revenue and spending law into conformity with the policies in a budget resolution. Reconciliation is an optional process, but since 1980, Congress has used reconciliation legislation to implement many of its most significant budget policies.
The reconciliation process has two stages–the adoption of reconciliation directives in the budget resolution and the enactment of reconciliation legislation that implements changes in revenue or spending laws.
Reconciliation is used to change the amount of revenues, budget authority, or outlays generated by existing law. In a few instances, reconciliation has been used to adjust the public debt limit. On the spending side, the process focuses on entitlement laws, but it may not be used to impel changes in Social Security law.
- The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 created reconciliation. (See Pub.L. 93-344, § 310; 88 Stat. 297; 2 USC § 641.)
- “The Budget Reconciliation Process,” Parliamentary Outreach Program, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules
- “Legislating in Congress: Federal Budget Process” by Bill Heniff Jr. and Robert Keith, Ch. 9 in the Congressional Deskbook (TheCapitol.Net 2007) www.CongressionalDeskbook.com
- The “Byrd Rule” (2 USC § 644) outlines what reconciliation can and cannot be used for.
- “Summary of the Byrd Rule,” Parliamentary Outreach Program, U.S. House of Representatives
- “The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate’s ‘Byrd Rule’,” by Robert Keith, CRS Report for Congress RL30862, March 20, 2008 (35-page pdf )