White House Lies About Budget Passage Rules
“But we also need to be honest. You can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes and you can’t get 60 votes without bipartisan support. So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed. And I think he was reflecting the reality of that that could be a challenge.”
That said, Lew is completely wrong when he claims that 60 votes are needed to “pass a budget in the Senate.” As he well knows, a budget resolution is one of the few things that are not subject to a filibuster. In fact, that is one reason why a bill based on reconciliation instructions cannot be filibustered.
We might be tempted to think Lew misspoke, except that he said virtually the same thing, on two different shows, when he was specifically asked about the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget resolution. He even prefaced his comment on CNN by citing the “need to be honest.”
He could have tried to argue, as some Democrats do, that the debt-ceiling deal last year in effect was a budget resolution. Or he could have spoken more broadly about gridlock in the Senate, after acknowledging a traditional budget resolution had not been passed. Instead, the former budget director twice choose to use highly misleading language that blamed Republicans for the failure of the Democratic leadership.
We wavered between three and four Pinocchios, in part because the budget resolution is only a blueprint, not a law, but ultimately decided a two-time budget director really should know better.