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Senate Parliamentarian: Your Qs, A’d.

By Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writer

Last week, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the minimum wage raise does not fit under ‘reconciliation.’ What does that mean? We answer your questions here.

Who is the Senate Parliamentarian?

A little-known player in an already esoteric process, the Senate parliamentarian determines which bills can be passed with just 50 Senate votes (known as “reconciliation”), versus a supermajority of 60 (known as “impossible”). In other words, a single person has outsized influence on bills through a wholly undemocratic process, just what the Senate was designed for.

What factors determine whether a bill needs 50 or 60 votes?

Like a good magician, the Senate parliamentarian never reveals their tricks! Rumor has it that current weather and mood are all salient factors. A bill is more likely to only need 50 votes if it includes sections complementing the parliamentarian or offering to do their chores for a month.

When passing a bill, it is important for the Congress to ask how will this affect the Senate parliamentarian?

Who gave them the power to determine the outcome of legislation in the Senate?

The United States Constitution.
Just kidding, it’s a weird thing the Senate made up.

So, what? No minimum wage increase?

Now that a minimum wage increase does not fit under reconciliation, the fate of the bill is very much in doubt. Nonetheless, Democratic senators are vowing to get a version of the minimum wage increase approved by the parliamentarian by trying these tactics:

  • Asking nicely next time (a “please” wouldn’t hurt)
  • Highlighting that a federal minimum wage increase includes the job of “parliamentarian”
  • Good old-fashioned bribe
  • Promise to attend the parliamentarian’s birthday party

Why can’t we just fire the Senate parliamentarian?

How dare you, firing someone just so that millions of people can get a raise. You clearly have no respect for the dignity of Senate work.

Thank you for reading!