There’s just one big problem: Budget reconciliation was never meant to be used like this. Once a tool to ease partisan gridlock, reconciliation has become part of the problem, used to reinforce the very problems it was designed to help fix.

As envisioned in the original 1974 Budget Act, budget reconciliation was limited in scope: a two-week exercise in late September of each year to tweak the spending and tax bills that had already passed earlier in that session. It was not built for legislation sweeping in scope and scale. Allen Schick, the Congressional Research Service specialist tasked with helping Congress draft the 1974 Act, later wrote that “reconciliation was intended to deal with legislative decisions made during the interval between adoption of the first budget resolution and consideration of [a] second resolution [in September, just before the start of the fiscal year].” But it was never used this way.