Previously, there were two Obamacare repeal attempts that failed to win a majority in the Senate, and now there’s the new Republican tax bill. If all of these bills only need a simple majority in the Senate to pass, has the filibuster been de facto eliminated already?
Once a year. Last year, they tried to pass the Obamacare repeal under reconciliation. This year, they’re trying to pass the tax bill.
Remember, the fiscal year starts October 1st.
Up to three per year. They can do one on spending, one on revenues (i.e. taxes), and one on the debt limit.
However, if they combine two of those in one bill (e.g. spending and revenue) that counts as a bill on each of those topics.
See the wiki article:
And on the Obamacare repeal efforts that fell short in the Senate, the process played out a little differently than the OP may suspect.
A bill with protections from filibuster was brought up for debate in the Senate. The key votes were on amendments to the bill. When the amendment with the Republican Plan Number One failed its vote, the bill was then pulled from the floor. There was no vote on the bill itself.
So Republicans went back to work, and then sent the bill back to the floor again, with another key vote on an amendment to the bill, which also failed. The bill was pulled again.
The health care bill with protections from filibuster cannot be brought up again, because we have entered a new fiscal year. But since now Congress has decided to protect a tax cut bill from filibuster, it is possible that the same process could occur if tax cuts prove more difficult than expected: bring the bill up in the Senate, see how votes on key amendments go. If they go poorly, pull the bill and try again later; if they pass, simply pass the bill. This strategy can be used as many times as the Republican leadership wishes until September 30, 2018.
The stupidity of Republicans trying to hide Obamacare repeal inside this tax bill is going to cause it to fail even more so than the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the tax bill itself will. This is the same Senate that couldn’t get that Obamacare repeal passed as its own bill. Trying to piggyback it on an almost-as-unpopular tax bill won’t work, either.
Except that there is a big fat sweetener for Murkowski. Authorizing drilling for oil in Alaska. Maybe a big plum for Maine and they can get it done.