In order to understand the context in which the current tax reform bill, H.R. 1, is being considered, it is important to know the meaning of two bits of Washington jargon: “budget reconciliation” and the “Byrd rule.”  Though somewhat arcane, these terms have a substantial impact both on the likelihood of enactment of tax reform legislation and on the contents of, and revisions to, such legislation.

Under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, budget reconciliation is a two-step process. Under the first step, reconciliation instructions are included in the annual budget resolution. The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. Congress passes a budget resolution specifying spending and revenue levels for that year, and, in the case of tax revenues, containing instructions to the two tax-writing committees, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, as to the changes in law that they are to propose in order to achieve the specified tax revenue levels. Continue Reading The Budget Reconciliation Process and the “Byrd Rule”: Implications for the Ongoing Tax Reform Effort