by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There is a perfectly legal way for Vice President Mike Pence to help Republicans sidestep Democrats in the Senate and pass a major tax reform bill.
As president of the Senate, Pence has the power to sidestep a procedural practice that stands to threaten tax reform, just as it threatened every Republican Obamacare repeal and replace attempt in 2017.
Republican leaders are trying to shepherd tax reform through the Senate using the chamber’s budget reconciliation rules, as they tried and failed to do with health care. Reconciliation allows Republicans to pass a tax reform bill with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 typically needed to avoid a filibuster from Democrats. …
… Pence has the ability to work around the parliamentarian. It is the president of the Senate, not the parliamentarian, who makes the ruling on what is permissible under reconciliation and what is not, a historian at the U.S. Senate Historical Office told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The parliamentarian has a purely advisory role.
Should Pence decide to preside over the Senate during the tax reform proceedings, he could put forth a bill that offers key concessions to his Republican Senate colleagues that would ensure the bill would get to 50 votes. The Senate parliamentarian would not have to analyze the bill, since Pence, acting as the presiding officer, would be the one making the ruling as to what is permissible under reconciliation rules.