Reconciliation is a procedure by which legislation is given expedited consideration in both the House of Representatives and the Senate if it meets certain criteria, which are set out in section 310 (CBA). First, the legislation has to be planned for and instructions for its introduction included in a Congressionally-adopted concurrent resolution on the budget. Second, all the provisions included in the bill, oddly enough including its short title and table of contents, must have a budgetary effect. If not, a provision will violate the “Byrd Rule“, which is set forth in section 313 (CBA).

A reconciliation bill is privileged in both the House and the Senate, which has importance in the Senate since it is limited as to both time and amendments. Amendments must be germane to the underlying bill and debate is limited to fifty hours for a reported measure and twenty hours for a conference report. This means that a bill may not be filibustered, and does not require sixty votes to end debate.

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)


A process Congress uses to reconcile amounts determined by tax, spending, credit, and debt legislation for a given fiscal year with levels set in the concurrent resolution on the budget for the year. Section 310 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. § 641) provides that the resolution may direct committees to determine and recommend changes to laws and pending legislation as required to conform to the resolution’s totals for budget authority, revenues, and the public debt. Such changes are incorporated into either a reconciliation resolution or a reconciliation bill. (See also Concurrent Resolution on the BudgetCongressional Budget Act.)

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Reconciliation Process: A process by which Congress includes in a budget resolution “reconciliation instructions” to specific committees, directing them to report legislation which changes existing laws, usually for the purpose of decreasing spending or increasing  revenues by a specified amount by a certain date. The legislation may also contain an increase in the debt limit. The reported legislation is then considered as a single “reconciliation bill under expedited procedures.”

[The Congressional Budget Process: An Explanation, Appendix J (Glossary), Committee on the Budget of the U.S. Senate, S. Prt. 105-67 (Revised December 1998).]




Reconciliation Bill