Budget reconciliation is a procedure that allows certain legislation to avoid the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Policies passed through this process require only a majority to pass rather than the 60 votes usually required, which makes it an appealing route to accomplish legislative goals. However, the process comes with constraints. Any measures passed through reconciliation can only affect government spending or revenues and can’t increase the federal deficit beyond 10 years. 

With a high degree of polarization between the two political parties and a recent trend of Congress passing large legislative changes through reconciliation, this limited procedural mechanism may be the one hope for Congress to advance climate policy this year. 

The Center on Global Energy Policy and the Niskanen Center hosted a discussion to explore how budget reconciliation could include climate policies such as a clean electricity standard or a carbon tax. We looked at what measures have historically been permissible through budget reconciliation and how climate measures would fit within the confines of the rules. 


  • Jason Bordoff, Founding Director, Center on Global Energy Policy and Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University


  • G. William Hoagland, Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Dr. Joseph Majkut, Director of Climate Policy, Niskanen Center
  • Dr. Leah Stokes, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Visiting Faculty at CGEP