Category: Featured
Possible Government Shutdown Looms

In the run-up to last year’s contentious elections, Congress was unable to agree on FY 2017 appropriations for most of the government’s departments and agencies, instead passing a stopgap measure (called a “continuing resolution” or “CR”) to keep federal departments and agencies operating at...

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The Senate’s “Nuclear Option” — How it Works and Why it Matters

Charles S. Konigsberg served as Chief Counsel on the Minority Staff of the Senate Rules Committee, General Counsel at the Senate Finance Committee, counsel at the Senate Budget Committee, and Senate liaison at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

We are about to witness a major change in how the U.S. Senate operates – the so-called “nuclear option.”  Following is an explanation of how it works and why it matters....

On November 21, 2013, the Senate created a major exception to the 60-vote cloture threshold. In a procedural vote, the Senate adopted a precedent that ending a filibuster on a President’s executive and judicial appointments would only require a simple majority of Senators voting. The precedent specifically excluded nominations to the Supreme Court, which still requires 60 votes to end a filibuster.

What made this 2013 precedent “nuclear,” is the way the Rules change was accomplished.  The Senate ignored its own Standing Rules requiring that: (i) changes to the Rules can occur only with prior written notice; and (ii) debate on a Rules change can only be brought to a close upon a two-thirds vote of the Senate (67 Senators if all are present).  The Standing Rules very deliberately set a high threshold for changing the rules.


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Essential Facts About the American Health Care Act (“Trump-Ryan”)

As the House prepares to vote on the American Health Care Act (HR 1628 “Trump-Ryan”), following are the essential facts about how the bill would change the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”): Background on US healthcare: About half of all Americans have employer-provided healthcare, which...

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Budget Challenges Facing the new Treasury Secretary and OMB Director

With Senate confirmation of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, following is an overview of key fiscal challenges facing the new Administration: Budget Reconciliation to Repeal-and-Replace the ACA: Jan. 27, 2017 was the deadline set in the  Budget Resolution...

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Budget Reconciliation, the Byrd Rule and the Affordable Care Act

We are about to witness the late Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia exerting his posthumous influence over the impending Senate debate to "repeal-and-replace" the Affordable Care Act. The reason is the rule that bears his name -- "the Byrd Rule" – which is about to take center stage once again....

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Welcome to!

As General Counsel at the Senate Finance Committee, I had the good fortune to be present when our Chairman, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, famously said "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

One of the great ironies of the Information Age is that the volume of information we receive...

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